Cook County Jail Inmates Put To Work Cleaning Animal Cages

UPDATED 08/01/11 12:34 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Inmates at the Cook County Jail are taking on some new responsibilities, in the form of cleaning cages at an animal shelter.

The program, initiated by county Sheriff Tom Dart, started Monday morning.

Sixteen minimum security inmates will clean cages at the David R. Lee Animal Care Center, 2741 S. Western Ave., for pay of a little under $1 per hour – or a total of $4 per day.

Inmates will be brought to the shelter seven days a week and 365 days a year. They will clean hundreds of kennels in the dog pound.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“We need to get them to go out there and earn their keep, and try to contribute back our community,” Dart said.

The county says their rate of pay is double the standard rate that County Jail inmate workers usually receive. The inmates can use the money to buy items from the jail commissary, such as snacksa and toiletries.

The inmates selected for the program are serving short sentences at the jail for not-violent charges, most of them traffic-related, according to the blog for the county.

All inmates will be supervised by correctional officers throughout the process. They will get on a bus to the animal shelter, and will all be searched before returning to their jail cells, according to the county.

The inmates will wear their orange prison jumpsuits while working. Their work will take place at hours when the facility is closed to the public, according to the county.

The City of Chicago, which operates the facility, will pay the county sheriff’s office $231,059 per year for the program, according to the county.

But city Animal Care and Control executive director Cherie Travis figures the city will still save money by forking out less in overtime pay.

  • ChicagoCitizen

    What a great idea. I don’t agree with the county engaging in slave labor though. Inmates or not, $4 a day is just plain wrong.



      • Jack

        Look at the picture – at least one guy looks black to me…

      • ChicagoCitizen

        Did you read the story, William? These are traffic offenders. The black gangsters you refer to, are not allowed the privilage.

    • Jack

      They can work for free – think of it as volunteering back to the community. If you and the inmates don’t like – Don’t do something stupid and illegal to get thrown in jail to begin with.

      Have a nice day…

  • TLM

    This is a great idea! And let’s take it a bit further….have inmates & welfare recipiants get out there & do more jobs like picking up all the litter along Illinois roads…..Illinois is quickly becoming the armpit of the cournty. And they can also get out there and do up keep at our state parks. We went to Kankakee a few weeks ago & it is a crying shame to see how all of the cutbacks to DNR has left our parks in such sad shape. You break the law & want to eat and sleep on the taxpayers dollar….EARN IT! You’ve been on welfare for more than a year & you want that check….EARN IT!!

    • NWA

      TLM where the hell have you been? Illinois has been the below the armpit for decades. Illinois is ranks next to Mississippi in concerns to social issues. This state never cared for its veterans until 911, the disabled or minorities.


      • TLM

        My “armpit” point was simply about how dirty & full of litter the state is. When taking road trips across the country & come back to Illinois……you easily notice how dirty it is here. SHAME!!!! And for the record – I personally FULLY support our veterans! I even host a few golf outings each year to raise funds for one of our vet homes……just saying.

  • Northern Warehouse Association

    those damn people should clean out THOZ cages, and their cages, and then…

  • GO Southside

    How would you call that slave labor?
    They are being feed given a gym to train in, cable T.V. They can go to the library, and they should do that and more to help this county drop our expenses and relocate workers in areas where there is a shortage of workers. These members of Society cannot or do not want live within our norms (or at least within 3 of the Commandments, not kill, not steal, respect one another).
    Why should we SLAVE over jobs to support them, they are not my family?

    • Jim

      We are talking about traffic offenders, aren’t we?

  • annie k

    Hey, Chicago Citizen,
    After paying mortgage, taxes, transportation, and all other expenses sometimes I dont have 4 dollars in my pocket.
    I would happily clean cages (dog lover here) if all my other expenses were paid for and i could eat 3 meals a day, have a free gym and an indoor library.

    • ChicagoCitizen

      Unfortunately the so called luxuries you speak of, come at a price. Removal of your freedom. The bad economic state of this country could be improved immensely, if the Republicans would agree to tax the disgustingly wealthy at the same rate as us less fortunate citizens. Meaning they should pay their fair share.

      • jg

        Do we know what ‘traffic offenses’ they have committed? Multiple (or even 1) DWI? No insurance? Things that could lead to more serious (and possibly fatal) issues? For whatever reasons they are in there they broke the law, and obviously bad enough to warrant jail time. — Jail has to suck; at least helping others gets them outta that hell.

      • ChicagoCitizen

        @Jack, My point was, annie k made it sound like inmates in Cook County Jail are living large, with all that free food, gym, and library. Being in jail has to suck, even with those so called luxuries. Why are we wasting tax dollars on jailing traffic offenders anyway? Fine them and let them be free to work and pay off their fines. We need the space for the violent offenders anyway.

      • Jack

        Removal of freedom – nice comment. Think about it – most of the removing from freedom was self inflicted.

        Obey the law – have your freedom

        Have a nice day ChicagoCitizen

  • RAO 21

    It’s about time. THey should also be used for cleaning up the highways and forest preserves. They get free room and board as well as medical care so those that are fit should be put to work cleaning up the state that is supporting them.

  • Steve Bayne

    I think this is a good idea. Jail culture creates a hierarchy, one that suggests dignitiy at the top. This is an undeserved dignity fostered by an inverted picture of the way the world ought to be. By cleaning animal cages they see the indignity of incarceration; they see themselves in a new light, perhaps for the first time. These men will return to the streets. It is important that they not see themselves as animals when they’re on the outiside; it is just as important that they see the indignity they deserve on the inside as one of their own making.

  • richard Allen

    This is PITIFUL………Let’s really make it hard on Inmates


    So,You want to get out early, well read the Wall Street Journal in front of a parole board……90% will NEVER give up their ghetto lifestyle and speak English.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live