Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Sheriff explains reforms in jail mental health system
Thirty percent of the more than 12,000 people in the jail’s custody have a mental illness, and most of those are receiving psychiatric medications

Sunday, March 22, 2015
CorrectionsOne.com
by McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Tom Dart, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., is making a difference for the mentally ill in the Cook County Jail. Cook County, which includes Chicago, is also home to the nation's largest single jail site.

Thirty percent of the more than 12,000 people in the jail’s custody have a mental illness, and most of those are receiving psychiatric medications. By default, Dart said, he has become a mental-health provider.

Mentally ill prisoners are not a problem unique to Cook County. In Allen County, about $325,000 was spent on psychiatric medications for prisoners in 2013. That was almost two-thirds of the money spent on medications of all types for prisoners that year. There are not group sessions for mentally ill prisoners or transition services for those being released in Allen County.

On Friday morning, Dart was in Indianapolis to speak at the National Alliance on Mental Health Indiana's 12th Annual Mental Health and Criminal Justice Summit.

One part of a solution is taking a harder look at what kind of people need to be jailed. Dart said many in his jail are repeat offenders who should not be there. Many of the cases in his jail are no threat to society and don't belong there.

Among the examples he offered, identifying them only by their initials:

*M.H., who was homeless, pregnant and mentally ill, stole two plums and three candy bars, then spent 135 days in jail at a cost of $19,305.

*D.E., who is seriously mentally ill and has nowhere to stay, was charged with trespassing at O'Hare airport and spent 86 days in jail at a cost of $12,298.

*W.M., a 57-year-old who’s been in jail 61 times, was charged with stealing eight snickers bars and a pair of scissors. He spent 114 days in jail at a cost of $16,000.

There is a complete disconnect in the criminal justice system between their crimes and their mental health issues, Dart said. The jail has become a warehouse. On a typical day, 2,500-3,000 people with a mental illness are housed in the Cook County Jail.

Since 2006, Dart has been pushing changes to help mentally ill inmates, and he’s trying to make the topic a national issue.

"With something as outrageous as what we are talking about, it needs to have people throughout the country mad and angry and fed up," said Dart, a former prosecutor and Illinois state legislator.

"I cannot believe that our society is so cold that they know what's going on and are OK with it," Dart said.

The largest mental health care provider in the country is the prison systems and the jails. According to Dart, in 2012 there were 356,268 inmates in U.S. prisons and jails with severe mental illness -- about 10 times the population of severely mentally ill in state psychiatric hospitals.

Meanwhile, government officials looking to cut costs often look to mental-health services for savings. Dart cited Illinois as an example, saying the state cut mental-health services 32 percent between 2009 and 2012. In 2012, Chicago's mayor closed six of 12 mental health clinics, he said.

Dart has been working on thoughtful strategies to treat these people.

Among the approaches he’s instituted:

*Dart had all 3,500 correction officers in the Cook County Jail go through crisis-intervention team training so they could better deal with mentally-ill prisoners.

*In the past, mentally ill prisoners were released with no coat and a baggy filled with two weeks of medication. Some wanted to stay in jail and hurt themselves to get back in. Dart instituted a system to help them transition out of jail.

Now the mentally ill are given better information for that transition, and professionals work with them in groups. They also have access to a crisis hotline, and authorities try to reunite families when they can.

*A former minimum-security “boot camp” for prisoners has become a mental-health transition center. Group sessions are held with prisoners, and staff help them find work. Dart said he wants to staff it so prisoners in transition can stay there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

*Two years ago, the jail staff started signing prisoners up for Affordable Care Act insurance when they enter the system. When they leave, they have access to medical care they need.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

"Mass incarceration is just not thoughtful. Morally and ethically, it’s wrong, and financially it just doesn't make sense," Dart said.



Recent Headlines

Kim Foxx's Office Creates Online Process to Report Police Misconduct Allegations
Thursday, July 09, 2020
WTTW News

Column: Fitness fans flock to reopened Swallow Cliff Stairs, saying ‘It’s good to be back’
Thursday, July 09, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County suburbs score $51M in CARES Act funds to cover pandemic expenses
Thursday, July 09, 2020
The Daily Line

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 1,018 new known COVID-19 cases reported; CPS student athletes can start summer workouts next week but with precautions
Thursday, July 09, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Berwyn to get biggest share of $51 million in federal funds Cook County is doling out to cover suburban COVID-19 expenses
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County to start dividing up ‘much-needed’ $51 million in federal CARES Act funding to suburbs hardest hit by coronavirus pandemic
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Online Taste of Chicago starts today with food trucks, list of restaurants to order from
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Most Second Installment Residential and Commercial Property Tax Bills Higher
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Evanston RoundTable

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Another tool to help address flooding and promote economic development in Cook County
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
The Daily Line

Cook County Commissioners urge passage of Justice for Black Lives resolution to shift resources from incarceration to human needs
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Announces $41M Grant to Fund COVID-19 Contact Tracing
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
The Chicago Crusader

Check Your Mailbox. That Vote By Mail Application May Be Coming Soon.
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
WBEZ News

Lightfoot, senior advocates strike deal on Covid-19 housing protection ordinance
Monday, July 06, 2020
The Daily Line

Wellness checks and lines as Cook County courthouses open, hold more in-person hearings
Monday, July 06, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Circuit Court resuming limited in-person operations Monday
Monday, July 06, 2020

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Monday, July 06, 2020
Chicago Tribune

New flood maps tell us we aren’t doing enough to stop rising waters
Sunday, July 05, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County courts start reopening Monday, with thousands of cases stalled by pandemic. ‘How do you wake the sleeping giant?’
Saturday, July 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board considers nonbinding proposal to shift money from ‘failed and racist’ policing, incarceration systems
Saturday, July 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP