Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.

Stroger rebuked over hiring
U.S. judge orders contempt hearing on jail guard issue

Thursday, December 29, 2005
Chicago Tribune
by John McCormick, Tribune staff reporter

Calling it mind-boggling that Cook County Board President John Stroger has failed to include additional jail guards in his 2006 budget proposal, a federal judge scolded county commissioners Wednesday and ordered a contempt hearing for late February.

"Zero is not the number," U.S. District Judge George Marovich repeated several times, as Stroger and six other commissioners sat in his courtroom.

Marovich, who oversees a consent decree governing inmate population and staffing at the Cook County Jail, said he realizes funding for inmates does not represent a "sympathetic constituency."

But he also suggested he could order hiring if the county fails to show progress in adding the hundreds of additional workers he believes are needed to make the jail safe and humane.

"They are there, and you have to take care of them whether you like it or not," he said.

A report released earlier this month showed the jail needs 668 more correctional officers--a 23 percent increase--to operate effectively and meet requirements of the federal decree. The report, prepared for the county at a cost of $300,000, also called for the end of so-called "cross-watching," a practice where a guard keeps an eye on more than one living area.

The lawsuit involving jail staffing, first filed in 1974, is a class action in which all inmates being held for trial are listed as plaintiffs. The John Howard Association, the court-appointed jail monitor, maintains the county has failed to live up to the terms of the 1982 consent decree because it has routinely understaffed an overcrowded jail.

Sheriff Michael Sheahan, also present at the hearing, had asked for about 250 new positions for the Department of Corrections when he submitted his 2006 budget request in September. At a cost of $10 million, he sought to add 188 jail guards and 54 workers for alternative treatment programs.

But Stroger's proposed budget contained no additional funding for guards. When asked by the judge to explain his budget, Stroger responded by saying that there is now "more hostility among the commissioners" than at any time before.

Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), who also attended the hearing and is backing a presidency challenge to Stroger, said that if any additional guards are hired, they should come from existing funding for the sheriff's department, which he called "bloated and patronage-filled."

Under similar pressure from the judge last year, the county added 283 new jail positions, at an annual cost of about $19 million. Marovich indicated he would accept gradual increases in jail staffing, but he wants to see annual progress.

"This is an election year," he said, noting the political pressures of cutting programs or raising taxes. "But I'm not running for anything."

After meeting privately with lawyers and elected officials, Marovich scheduled a contempt hearing for Feb. 21, the day before the county is expected to vote on its annual budget.

Outside court, Stroger said additional guards were not included in his budget because he could not find enough votes for passing "new revenue sources," which he said would be needed to fix the jail problem.

Stroger also hinted that there might be room to cut elsewhere in the sheriff's budget, specifically mentioning the possibility that fewer sheriff's police officers might be needed because of a decline in unincorporated land in the county. "I don't particularly concur with that," he said.

Sheahan said the jail, now with about 8,800 inmates, remains safe. But he said the lack of additional guards threatens inmate and guard safety and makes the county more vulnerable to inmate lawsuits.

"We're down in numbers and thank God," he said of the current jail population.

Recent Headlines

Special prosecutor billed Cook County nearly 50K for Van Dyke murder case
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board votes in favor of $4 million settlement in Stroger medical malpractice case
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Judge bucks Cook County law, says boys as young as 10 can be locked up
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.