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No Disciplinary Action For Jail Staff After Visitor Trapped For 32 Hours

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An unused visiting room in a super maximum security area of Cook County Jail, where Farad Polk became trapped for 32 hours after he walked into the room, and the door locked behind him. (Credit: Cook County Sheriff)

An unused visiting room in a super maximum security area of Cook County Jail, where Farad Polk became trapped for 32 hours after he walked into the room, and the door locked behind him. (Credit: Cook County Sheriff)

miller250 Steve Miller
Steve Miller is an investigative reporter and has been with Newsradio...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Cook County Sheriff’s office has decided not to take any disciplinary action against jail employees, after a 51-year-old visitor was trapped for 32 hours in a small room at the jail last month.

WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports Cook County Jail executive director Cara Smith described the incident as a “perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances.”

Farad Polk visited the jail on the evening of July 5 to see his son, and ended up imprisoned himself when he walked into the wrong room. He became trapped in a small visiting room in the super maximum security Division 9 area of the jail for 32 hours, without food, water, or a toilet.

Smith said an internal review has concluded.

“The investigation showed that our staff, both in our lobby and in the visiting room that Mr. Polk’s son was to visit with him in, both staff went above and beyond to try to find out where Mr. Polk was when he didn’t come to the visiting room,” she said.

Jail Director Explains How Visitor Got Trapped

farad polk1 No Disciplinary Action For Jail Staff After Visitor Trapped For 32 Hours
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Smith said another visitor in the lobby thought Polk had left. That led the staff to think Polk was no longer at the jail.

“Unfortunately, another visitor in the lobby thought that Mr. Polk had left, which led our staff to believe that he had left, which visitors sometimes do for a variety of reasons,” she said.

An internal investigation did not recommend discipline for staff, according to Smith

The jail, which has had 160,000 visitors so far this year, has implemented a new system – giving visitors a receipt which they have to return when they leave.

Polk has filed a negligence lawsuit against the county. He cut his hand and needed to get stitches after he broke a sprinkler system on the ceiling, causing the room to start flooding. It also triggered an alarm, and firefighters who responded rescued him around 1 a.m. on July 7.

His attorney has said Polk was handcuffed after he was found trapped. Attorney Cannon Lambert implied jail staffers might have left him there on purpose.

“He could hear voices of guards on the other side of the door. Presumably, if he could hear them, they could hear him,” Lambert said.

Jail officials flatly rejected any suggestion Polk was intentionally left locked inside the room.

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