Whatever your opinions are regarding the ways we address the growing use of pretrial detention in America, I hope you’ll see that what is happening in Cook County Jail right now far exceeds the issue of bail. What we have is a human crisis that calls for action, compassion and courage.
This month, the jail hit an all-time high of more than 300 COVID-19 cases among the incarcerated population, and dozens among the jail staff. Scores of residents and public servants funnel in and out of the facility every day and return home to their communities. A hotspot at the jail creates a risk for all. Since the first COVID-19 case at the jail was reported in March, more than 1,100 people have tested positive inside the facility. Now with winter upon us, the jail’s infection totals have climbed back to April levels.
This threat to public health dictates that we must exhaust all avenues to drastically reduce the population of roughly 5,500 so social distancing is even an option inside the facility.