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Cook County moves to settle suit with female inmates for $1 million

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County taxpayers will fork over $1 million dollars to settle a federal lawsuit filed by female jail inmates who claimed they were subjected to unreasonable weekend lockdowns of up to 50 hours at a time nearly a decade ago.

The Cook County Board voted Tuesday to settle the 2003 civil rights lawsuit.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recommended the deal involving four female inmates.

According to the original lawsuit, the lockdowns were “imposed in a harsh and abusive manner” by then Sheriff Michael Sheahan. And the prolonged lockdowns were tantamount to punishment of inmates before they’ve went to trial, the suit stated.

Women in the jail were subjected to monthly lockdowns — while corrections offers conduced drug and other safety sweeps — that typically began at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays and lasted until the afternoon on Sundays, according to the suit. The inmates argued there was no valid reason to confine them to their cells after contraband searchs had been completed.

The biggest chunk of the $1 million settlement will go to the attorneys, who will walk away with $850,000. The four inmates will receive between $5,000 and $95,000 each



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