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17 people hurt in 2 knife fights in County Jail

Monday, March 13, 2006
Chicago Tribune
by Tonya Maxwell and Josh Noel

Two knife fights in Cook County Jail Sunday left 17 people injured, six seriously, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

There were few details on what caused either fight, but Fire Department spokesman Will Knight said that at about 8 p.m., a Cook County sheriff's police deputy was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn with minor to moderate injuries and three inmates were taken to Mt. Sinai and Stroger Hospitals in Chicago in serious condition.

Ten inmates with lesser injuries were taken to Cermak Hospital in the jail.

The inmates all came from a maximum-security wing at the jail, and all the injuries were stab wounds, Chicago Fire Department EMS Chief Kevin Roche said.

Bill Cunningham, sheriff's police spokesman, said the fight might be gang-related.

LaTonya Walker, 29, was visiting her brother in the jail with her six children, ages 1 to 11, when the fight broke out.

"A couple of people got into a confrontation," she said. "It was just arguing about the TV."

In a earlier fight at about 5:15 p.m., three inmates were taken to Mt. Sinai and Stroger Hospitals with serious stab wounds, said Larry Langford, Fire Department spokesman.

Though Sunday's violence at the jail was quickly contained, it marked another problem for a facility that has had a string of embarrassing episodes this year.

On Feb. 11, six inmates, two charged with murder, overpowered guards at the jail and escaped. They were captured within two days.

A day earlier, on Feb. 10, an inmate charged with three armed robberies escaped from a maximum-security wing by hiding in a laundry truck. He was caught the next day.

Also in February, three inmates suffered minor injuries from gunshot wounds. The gun had been smuggled into the jail by a prisoner's girlfriend, authorities said.



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