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2 inmates stabbed in County Jail row

Monday, April 03, 2006
Chicago Tribune
by Andrew L. Wang

Two inmates were seriously injured when they stabbed each other with homemade weapons during a fight Sunday morning in Cook County Jail, authorities said.

The incident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. in a common area of Division 11, a maximum-security section of the jail complex at 26th Street and California Avenue, said Bill Cunningham, a sheriff's spokesman.

"Two inmates began fighting each other, and several others joined in based on gang affiliation," he said.

The men who started the fight apparently stabbed each other, Cunningham said. He did not know where on their bodies either inmate was stabbed.

Both men were taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in serious to critical condition, said Josh Dennis, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.

Several other inmates had minor scrapes and bruises that were treated by medical staff at the jail, Cunningham said. No jail personnel were injured, he said.

The injured inmates--one of which is awaiting trial on a charge of aggravated vehicular hijacking and the other accused of murder--had homemade weapons, Cunningham said.

The fight occurred in a day room, an open area where inmates socialize and watch television. Cunningham said one guard typically monitors each day room. If a fight breaks out, the guard is trained to call for backup to subdue it. Each day room is designed to be used by 40 to 50 inmates.

It was not clear Sunday how long the fight lasted or how many guards were called, he said.

Cunningham said guards do not segregate inmates at the jail based on gang affiliation.

The stabbings were another in a string of embarrassing incidents that received publicity at the jail this year.

On March 12, 17 people were injured in knife fights in a common area of a maximum-security area, officials said.

On Feb. 11, six inmates, two charged with murder, overpowered guards and escaped from Division 1 of the jail . They were captured within two days.

A day earlier, Warren C. Mathis, an inmate charged with three armed robberies, escaped from Division 11 by hiding in a laundry truck. He was caught the next day.

Also in February in the same division, three inmates suffered gunshot wounds after a gun was smuggled into the jail by an inmate's girlfriend, authorities said.



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