Cook County Jail is among one of the most notorious in the country. However, the storied lockup is now experiencing record lows in inmate population nowadays. In recent years, the number of inmates in Cook County Jail stood at a staggering 10,000, with some inmates were forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor. As of Thursday, the inmate population stood at 5,900.
The drop in inmate population at Cook County Jail is due to a couple of reasons. According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith, the population has been dropping for a time due to fewer arrests. “The jail is being used more appropriately now and not being used to criminalize those who are poor,” Smith told CBS News.
The drop can also be attributed to Chief Judge Tim Evans’ order for affordable bails set for nonviolent felonies. Since that decree went out in September, the jail population dropped by 1,500. According to Smith, there are still around 150 inmates locked up who would qualify because their bails were set before the order went out. They have to option to petition to lower their bail, but, Smith says, it is usually unlikely for a judge to reset a bail that another judge has set.
The drop in population at Cook County is also working in the Sheriff’s Office’s favor. Since there are so few inmates, the Sheriff’s Office can save money on paying corrections officers overtime. “With fewer detainees we have been able to close buildings and need fewer officers to cover those buildings and certainly that helps with overtime,” said Smith.