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Taxpayer tab for suit over jail STD tests: $3.2 million
COOK COUNTY | Board set to settle -- exams painful, inmates say

Friday, July 06, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

One by one, Cook County Jail inmates would line up to have a cotton swab inserted into their penises.
It wasn't always done gently, or willingly, according to inmates, and sometimes it happened without the medical official changing gloves.

Now county taxpayers could be on the hook to pay as much as $3.2 million to the thousands of inmates who experienced this method of jail testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The Cook County Board is set to vote Tuesday to settle the class-action case brought by inmates, who said they were coerced and threatened into taking a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Inmates say the tests were done through Cermak Hospital without privacy and with great pain during swabbing.

But county officials maintained proper procedures were followed and they were doing little more than testing for diseases for the safety of all inmates -- no differently than taking a blood sample.

County health officials suspended the program earlier this year and cut off funding for an automatic STD test upon entry to the jail.

County attorney Patrick Driscoll said more than 32,000 inmates are eligible to collect in the settlement.

Attorney Tom Morrissey, representing the inmates, declined comment until after the board vote Tuesday.



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