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Inmate killed in Cook County Jail shouldn't have been locked up there

Monday, February 16, 2015
Chicago Tribune
by Annie Sweeney

Tony Purnell, who survived Chicago's tough Henry Horner Homes to serve in the Army and earn a college degree, had struggled for years with mental illness by the time he wound up in Cook County Jail early last year on a minor charge, unable to post the $500 bond.

By June 23, he had been slapped with a six-month sentence for swearing at a judge and was living in a four-man cell in the jail's psychiatric ward. But because of crowded conditions, temporary beds had been added that day to make more room for two more inmates.

Inside the cramped space that evening, Purnell was repeatedly pacing when a cellmate suddenly threw him against a wall and stomped on him, causing severe injuries, officials said. He died a month later.


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