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Chicago’s Cook County female public defenders give judge ultimatum over lewd acts by inmates

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Female public defenders in Chicago’s Cook County Public Defender’s Office have had enough of their clients “whipping it out” in holding cell areas, jail and courthouse lockups.

Public Defender Amy Campanelli expressed her staff’s disdain for the indecent exposure trend to Chief Judge Timothy Evans, confirming that her staff will no longer visit the jail -starting November 6- unless Evans or Sheriff Tom Dart can zip up the situation.

“There have always been these incidents since I became a public defender,” said Campanelli, who is a decade-long veteran of her office. “But it’s never been like it is today, where it’s like the behavior we’re seeing now, every day, or every other day. It’s just become pervasive. We’ve tried everything.”

Campanelli and her staff are at wit’s end on the matter, providing a timeline dating back several years that detailed the incidents.

“Of late, it has become a daily occurrence,” she wrote. “Male detainees constantly expose themselves and masturbate while in the lockup behind the courtrooms.”

Cook County Sherrif’s Office Policy Director Cara Smith claims she wasn’t aware of the letter, but is aware of the issue. Since the start of this year, over 222 detainees have been charged with indecent exposure- with 144 of said cases involving a detainee exposing themselves to jail staff.

“This is something that happens in custodial environments, period,” Smith said. “I don’t know that there is a silver-bullet answer. We’re willing to do anything that protects our staff and the rest of the criminal justice system.”

No other jail in the state seems to have the same problem of the same magnitude as that of Cook County Jail, according to the Public Defenders Association and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.

According to ABC7, the situation is a headache to tackle.

“The sheriff is committed to working to solve this problem,” she said. “This is a very unfortunate reality.”

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