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Jail needs more guards, study says

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Chicago Tribune

COOK COUNTY -- Cook County Jail needs 668 more correctional officers, a 23 percent increase, to operate effectively and to meet the requirements of a federal consent decree, a report released Friday says.

The $300,000 study was conducted at the urging of U.S. District Judge George Marovich, who oversees the Duran decree that governs conditions at the jail, including staffing levels.

Cook County paid for the report, which was authored by a team led by Michael Mahoney, the former president of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group that is the court-appointed monitor for the decree.

The report calls for an end to so-called cross-watching, when a guard keeps an eye on more than one living area.

Bill Cunningham, a spokesman for Sheriff Michael Sheahan, said the difficulties related to roster management stem from the fact the jail is understaffed.

Sheahan has requested 225 more jail guards for 2006, Cunningham said.

The jail currently has an authorized posted roster of 2,921 guards.



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