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Group: Blame policy, not guards, for jail woes

Friday, August 15, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Policy failures by the Cook County Board, among other county government agencies, have led to violence and crowding at the Cook County Jail.

That's the view according to the John Howard Association of Illinois, which points to jail maintenance, where building materials can be made into weapons, as well as the sometimes slow pace of the courts.

The jail watchdog group's spokesman says that Thursday's report differs from an assessment released by the U.S. attorney's office last week, which pointed to a culture of excessive and inappropriate use of force at the jail. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office is considering charges against some jail guards.

"The John Howard Association doesn't believe it's a culture of violence -- that the sheriff and his administration are determined to reduce the violence and they're opposed to abuse by staff to the prisoners," said David Ormsby, a John Howard spokesman.

Lisa Donovan



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