What Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Should Do – Part 2

I wrote earlier what I thought Cook County Sheriff should do about the scathing Federal investigator’s findings about the Cook County Jail.

To put it briefly,

Tom Dart should throw up his hands, blame the Cook County Board for not providing enough money to bring the Cook County Jail up to standards and ask the Federal Court to take over the jail and make the needed improvements.

Then, he should take credit.

When I wrote my original story, little did I know that Federal Receiver Clark Kelso in California was going to recommend $8 billion over five years be seized from the California treasury to finance prison reforms there, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The argument for seizing the money is buttressed, the Receiver writes, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “recent public assertions of extraordinary power to control staste spending regarding state employee salaries and their acknowledgment that the state retains very substantial financial resources to fund necessary programs.” (You may have read that Schwarzenegger is paying state workers the minimum wage because a budget has not been passed.)

The California Receiver goes on to cite concerns similar to the ones brought up by Cook County Jail’s Federal investigator:

  • Medical care (“It is undisputed, however, that the state was incapable of remedying years of neglect by in the prison medical care system…The state chose for decades to permit the medical system to rot and decay. ”)
  • Medical facilities
  • Overcrowding

You get the picture.

Where would the money go?

$2 billion to renovate 33 prison clinics.

$6 billion for seven new prisons “for the long-term medical, mental health and dental care of 10,000 inmates.”

The Receiver is also asking $2 million a day in punitive fines, “ increasing by $1 million a day every 10 day, that would set aside for his use,” the article says.

Schwarzenegger included a then-$7 billion request in his budget this year, but Republicans would not support it with an expansion of the state prison system for regular prisoners.

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