Prisoners are brutalized by correctional officers with scandalous frequency. A recent abuse scandal in Los Angeles County ultimately sent former Sheriff Lee Baca to jail. In Texas, “the state prison system’s inspector general has referred nearly 400 cases of staff sex crimes against inmates to prosecutors. An analysis by The Marshall Project found that prosecutors refused to pursue almost half of those cases.” In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s list of misdeeds is too long to summarize in a sentence. In New York, the union for prison guards has helped dozens of abusive members to keep their jobs. Last year, human rights groups “called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Florida state prisons, contending that ‘immediate intervention’ is necessary to stop the widespread abuse, neglect, torture and deaths of inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections.”
And in Cook County, Illinois? There is brutal inmate abuse there, too. But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is making efforts as aggressive as any I’ve seen to confront and improve on the status quo. In recent years, he installed 2,400 fixed-position video cameras and purchased handheld cameras and body cameras for guards.