Blizzard Prompted Lockdown of Cook County Jail

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Visitations ended at 3 p.m. Tuesday and all movement was limited — no visits by family or friends to detainees during this period

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has authorized a lockdown status at the Cook County Jail, effective at 3 p.m. Tuesday, due to the arrival of a massive winter storm.

The lockdown status was expected to last until 3 p.m. Wednesday, but was extended to 7 a.m. Thursday. The lockdown status means the jail will be limited to essential movement only and there will be no inmate visits allowed, except by requesting clergy or legal counsel. Dart took those steps to avoid anyone needlessly driving to the jail. Inmates who had visitation days scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday were permitted to contact family or friends who may have been en route, an encourage them to instead stay home.

The lockdown status did not impact a person’s ability to post bond on behalf of any detainee. Bonds were accepted at 26th and California until 9 p.m. Tuesday and were scheduled to resume, as normal, at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Those detainees who have had a bond properly posted were or are released as normal.

However, Dart ordered that anyone leaving jail custody, who has identified themselves as homeless or who has nowhere to stay, be offered the opportunity to stay overnight in an empty, but secured jail building, where cots are being set up. Dart created separate on-site overnight housing for those corrections employees who are unable to leave at the end of their shift, by utilizing another empty jail building, if necessary.

Dart also adjusted personnel to account for those employees who are unable to arrive at the jail to carry out their shift. Roughly 900 correctional officers work every shift, securing around 9,000 inmates and transporting 1,000 to court every day.

Staff from Aramark, which holds the jail’s food service contract, will also remain on site at the jail, serving dinner early today and ensuring proper delivery of all subsequent meals to all 11 jail buildings.

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