Preckwinkle Praises Efforts to Upgrade Conditions at County Jail Complex

Department of Facilities Management takes lead in meeting compliance standards

The Cook County Department of Facilities Management (DFM) has met its obligations under a federal court order to make substantial repairs and upgrades at Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall recently accepted the County's motion that will end the work of a monitor appointed by the court in 2010 to ensure that DFM brought fire, life safety, sanitation and environmental conditions at the DOC up to acceptable standards.

We are pleased to report that the County has achieved, and importantly is maintaining, substantial compliance in these areas, said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Additionally, we are committed to continuing to provide constitutionally sound conditions of confinement at the DOC complex now that the work of the monitor has ended.

The case against the County was brought in 2007 by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's office.

DFM was required to achieve substantial compliance on the facilities' shortcomings and maintain compliance for a period of 18 months before court monitoring could end. Allegations in the case indicated certain conditions at the jail violated the constitutional rights of individuals confined at the facility.

The DFM provisions of the court order included developing a preventive maintenance plan for fire and life safety equipment, plumbing, electrical and ventilation, as well as ensuring prompt repairs and maintaining regular testing of fire and life safety equipment, and developing and maintaining hazardous materials control.

The County has spent a total of about $8.5 million to address the issues raised in the order.

The Department of Facilities Management was able to accomplish sustained substantial compliance due to a collaborative work relationship with the Department of Corrections and Cermak Hospital, the other parties to the order, Preckwinkle said.

Our in-house union trades staff and Local 399 Operating Engineers supported timely response to address physical plant concerns.

 A number of policies were implemented to ensure sustainable maintenance practices which will continue into the future to provide an appropriate environment for detainees and staff at the Department of Corrections Jail Complex.