CHICAGO (CBS)– The battle for the well-being of the inmates at Cook County Jail continues Thursday.
A federal judge will review whether the correction facility is following social distancing rules. Attorneys representing inmates inside Cook County Jail are challenging conditions and even calling them unconstitutional.
Two weeks ago, a judge ordered the Sheriff’s Office to ensure sanitation, testing, social distancing at intake, and protective equipment for inmates.
With over 4,200 people incarcerated at the facility, attorneys believe it’s impossible for the jail to meet this standard, unless some of the inmates are released.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart doesn’t see eye-to-eye with them.
“If they had let everyone go, oh my God, what would they have done?” he said. “Think about if you did do something as reckless as that, and just opened the doors? How could the community sustain that? They couldn’t.”
Inmate advocates say 395 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month, and if you include sheriff’s staff, that number climbs to nearly 700 people.
Dart said those numbers are exaggerated.
“They threw in employees who are police officers who have never been in the jail; clerks, never been in the jail. So that’s a bit of a problem. My 5-year-old would have nailed the math a little better than they did,” Dart said.
At least seven people have died due to the outbreak inside the jail, including six inmates and at least one corrections officer.