COVID-19: Cook County Jail Struggles

Cook County Jail in Chicago is one of the country’s largest and it’s in a fierce battle with COVID-19.

The rate of infection in the jail is higher than most anywhere else in the country. More than 50o people have tested positive so far. Detainees make up nearly two-thirds of the cases and three have died from apparent complications.

The county’s public defender, the state’s attorney, the sheriff and other officials agreed to release hundreds of people from the jail to help lower the COVID-19 threat — mainly those charged and still awaiting trial along with others serving less than a year for low-level crimes.

Authorities conduct case-by-case reviews and nonprofit bail groups, such as the Chicago Community Bond Fund, use their money to get people out.

Linn, who agreed to talk with NPR if his full name wasn’t used, was released in late March after the Fund paid his $5,000 bond. The 51-year-old is on home monitoring and staying at a friend’s house.

“It’s rough, I am glad to be out of there,” Linn says. ” I feel for a lot of the guys in there that can’t get out of there — knowing that they’re going to die in there.”