Sheriff’s Office Suspends In-Person Visits at Cook County Jail

The Cook County sheriff’s office announced Sunday it will be suspending in-person visits at the Cook County Jail in hopes of warding off another coronavirus outbreak as cases rise across the county.

The suspension is effective Monday, the sheriff’s office announced, citing the rising case numbers.

As Well As The Stay-At-Home Advisory.

“For months, detainees were able to safely meet with family and friends. Like detainees, the people who visit them come from the community, where current test positivity rates for Chicago and Cook County are at 15.6% and 15.2% respectively.”

Sheriff Tom Dart implored people to take coronavirus precautions seriously, saying that an outbreak in the community could eventually enter the jail.

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Over 100 COVID Rebellions in Jails & Prisons

U.S jails and prisons, already death traps, have been completely ravaged by COVID-19.

Crowded quarters, a lack of PPE, inadequate medical care, an aging population, and unsanitary conditions have contributed to an infection rate 5.5 times higher than the already ballooned average in the U.S. As of this writing, over 252,000 people in jails and prisons have been infected and at least 1,450 incarcerated people and officers have died from the novel coronavirus. Evidence suggests these figures are underreported, however.

(The entire state of Wisconsin, for example, isn’t releasing any information to the public.)

In response, incarcerated people have shown strong solidarity, coming together to demand baseline safety measures and advocating for their release, only to be met with brutal repression and punishment.

According to a new report released by the archival group Perilous: A Chronicle of Prisoner Unrest on November 13, incarcerated people in the U.S. collectively organized at least 106 COVID-19 related rebellions from March 17 to June 15.

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Containing COVID-19: Jails, Prisons Ripe for Spread

Early in the pandemic, reports characterized the Cook County Jail as a congregate setting hot spot for the coronavirus.

Sheriff Tom Dart’s office disputes that, and said it’s because the jail was doing testing for COVID-19 before other places, so it’s not a fair measurement.

Regardless, Dart and the jail’s medical director Dr. Connie Mennella say they took quick action to contain the virus – temperature checks, mask mandates, moving detainees to single occupancy cells, more testing – and got it under control such that the positivity rate at the jail is now lower than it is in wider Cook County.

But as cases are exploding outside, they’re ticking up within the jail.

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80% of those who Died of Covid-19 in Texas County Jails were Never Convicted of a Crime

Over 230 people have died from Covid-19 in Texas’s correctional facilities — and in county jails, nearly 80 percent of them were in pretrial detention and hadn’t even been convicted of a crime.

At least 231 people have died of Covid-19 in the state’s correctional facilities between March and October.

The 231 figure is likely to be a conservative count.

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Mass Incarceration Has Been a Driving Force of Economic Inequality

As people struggle with the economic fallout of Covid-19, there’s a growing sense that the economy wasn’t working well for many even before the lockdowns.

In late 2019, in the middle of a theoretically strong economy, income inequality hit a record high, and a cavernous wealth gap continues to separate too many white and Black families. Those inequalities are seen, more than anywhere else, in the criminal justice system — and more specifically in what the system does to families.

We know that people who have been convicted of a crime or imprisoned are more likely to face poverty and other serious challenges.

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U.S. Deports Women Who Allege Detention Center Doctor Coerced Them Into Unwanted Surgery

The Trump administration is trying to deport several women who allege they were mistreated by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center, according to their lawyers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already deported six former patients who complained about Dr. Mahendra Amin, who has been accused of operating on migrant women without their consent or performing procedures that were medically unnecessary and potentially endangered their ability to have children.

At least seven others at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, who had made allegations against the doctor have received word that they could soon be removed from the country.

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Private Prison Stocks Drop as the Reality of Biden’s Win Sinks In

Private prison companies have taken a financial hit in the past week as President-elect Joe Biden’s win became apparent. Stock prices for the country’s two largest prison companies, the GEO Group and CoreCivic, have fallen 14 percent and 19 percent respectively since Election Day.

Biden’s campaign platform, like Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, promised that he would end the federal government’s use of private prisons.

That’s a serious threat to both GEO and CoreCivic, which depend on federal contracts with the Bureau of Prisons, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the US Marshals Service for more than 50 percent of their revenue.

Private prison investors are adept at reading the political winds, and their consensus is that a Democratic president is bad news.

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Parole Illinois Mission Statement

Parole Illinois aims to change the perceptions, policies, and power relations that have maintained mass incarceration and extreme-sentencing in our state.

We pursue these aims by bringing incarcerated voices into prison-policy discussions, training impacted people to share their stories and lead mobilization efforts, and educating the public and policymakers about the harms of extreme sentencing and the need for policies that give every incarcerated person in the state a fair chance to return home.