Inmates With Sexual Misconduct Charges Must Appear Handcuffed, in Jumpsuits
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly of Chicago has ordered that anyone who is scheduled to appear before him with a history of masturbation, indecent exposure or other sexual misconduct charges must wear handcuffs. He issued preliminary injunctions on Tuesday, November 28th, to lawsuits filed by correctional officers and assistant public defenders alleging their exposure to inmates masturbating while they’re on the clock institutes as a hostile work environment. The plaintiffs have also filed class-action charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The lawsuits specifically claim authorities have not done enough to stop the detainees from exposing themselves and threatening female employees. The issues were “so severe and pervasive and so consistently traumatizing as to make the jail an objectively abusive and hostile workplace for women.” Furthermore, the “toxic work environment” has forced females “to regularly endure heinous sexual misconduct, robbing many of their love of the job, maybe permanently.”
The threats outlined in the litigation have become more frequent in the last two years. Some inmates have grabbed female assistant public defenders by the legs and buttocks, and one inmate “masturbated and emitted bodily fluids” on a female assistant PD. A group of detainees known as “Savage Life” primarily organized and carried out the assaults.
Judge Kennelly also ordered that detainees who with a documented masturbation history will need to wear special jumpsuits in jail, and whenever they appear in court, that are “designed to thwart indecent exposure and masturbation.” A staff member must also be assigned to the courthouse’s lockup areas whenever these detainees appear.
The lawsuit brought about by assistant public defenders indicated that the handcuffs and jumpsuits had been tried in the past. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart had required the handcuffing of detainees in courthouse lockups, but Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli objected, so the order was ultimately thrown out. The sheriff had also attempted to make the detainees wear jumpsuits, but they ended up destroying them by burning them in microwave ovens, according to the PD’s litigation. “If the Sheriff’s Office has an insufficient number of jumpsuits, then it will manufacture or purchase more,” Kennelly wrote.
In the past, deputies assigned to courtroom lockups were eventually told to abandon their posts for budgetary reasons, and civilian employees temporarily took their spots. Kennelly’s order specifically states that a “deputized sworn staff member or exempt staff member” must be present when detainees are present. All of his decisions, supported by both Campanelli and Dart, will remain in effect while the lawsuits are pending.
Campanelli responded to the judge’s orders, “I’m hopeful that we will be able to keep these incidents down, if not altogether eliminate them.”
Cara Smith, chief policy officer for Sheriff Tom Dart, added, “The safety of our staff is paramount. The order entered today reflects an agreement among the parties by which our office will continue to do what we have been doing to protect our staff and others from the despicable behavior by some detainees in our custody.”