CHICAGO (CBS) — Three times in the last year, inmates have been mistakenly released from Cook County Jail.
What’s going on? Today, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakely got an inside look at how inmates are processed and how much time sheriff’s deputies spend transporting paper rather than prisoners.
Every day, 1,200 prisoners are transported from Cook County Jail to County courtrooms and then, back to the jail again. Each day, more than 10,000 pieces of paper go with them.
“This is for one person we have in the jail. this is his paperwork,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, holding a large folder filled with papers.
All that paperwork, says Dart, makes for the kind of errors that led to the improper release of inmate Jeremiah Harris just last month, the third prisoner improperly released this year.
“When you have a system like this, its inherent you’re going to have mistakes and this is not something we should accept,” said Dart.
What makes it so tough? Sometimes conflicting instructions. One inmate’s record says: defendant sentenced to IDOC, state prison, on 3-7-13.
Probation revoked. But a note says let him go: release on this case only.
Sheriff’s deputies to determine which is right. Another prisoners file looks more like a treasure map.
The solution, says Dart, is courtroom computers.
“My god we should have this stuff. We should have had it years ago. The only way this is going to get remedied is that we have that automation,” said Dart.
Dart wants a computerized system in which judges clearly enter instructions to hold or release on an inmate’s record right in the courtroom and he’s trying to apply public pressure on Clerk of Court Dorothy Brown and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to get it done.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)