Court battle continues regarding Cook County Jail’s coronavirus guidelines

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CHICAGO — A court battle continued Thursday to force Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to comply with new COVID-19 jail guidelines.

Dart says federal oversight of the jail’s COVID-19 procedures will cause the department irreparable harm and interfere with day to day operations. He says the Cook County Jail is already complying with Centers for Disease Control guidelines but the lawyers for two detainees want proof.

“We as advocates as members of the public are simply not just taking the sheriff’s word at what he’s doing,” Sharlyn Grace, Chicago Community Bond fund, said.

In a hearing Thursday, attorneys for the sheriff argued that the scrutiny is burdensome.

“The sheriff’s position is that it shouldn’t be subject to federal court oversight and things on his own,” Grace said.

Jamaal Cannon is recovering from coronavirus. His wife, Tenika Cannon, said he told her conditions at the jail haven’t improved much since then.

“You have the manpower to make sure they’re OK. Why are you not doing it?” Tenika Cannon said.

She said her husband has not been able to get cleaning supplies and is in a cell where he can’t social distance.

“It’s like their hands are tied,” she said. “They can’t force them to give them cleaning supplies, all they can do is ask.”

Dart is appealing the judge’s decision. They’re back in court in a couple of weeks. 

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