Chicago Inmates Bunking in Shifts


According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County jail has adopted a practice called “hot bunking” in which inmates are forced to sleep in eight-hour shifts and take turns using the same bed. Sheriff Thomas Dart’s office defends the technique as an approach used commonly on U.S. Navy submarines. “It doesn’t reduce the population, but it gets people up off the floor,” said Penny Mateck, a Dart spokeswoman. “Each inmate has their own bedding. So the bedding is changed each time a new person sleeps in the bunk.”

Dart’s pilot program involves 144 inmates out of more than 9,900 at the jail, the Tribune reports. Sheriff’s office attorneys mentioned the pilot program Friday in federal court during a hearing in a civil rights case involving jail crowding. U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall didn’t comment on the hot-bunking program, but others were skeptical. “I’ve heard of it in a few other places,” Charles A. Fasano, a director at the John Howard Association, told the Tribune. “It is not considered a good practice. It is trying to deal with things in a roundabout way, rather than deal with the underlying problem, which is you’ve got too many people in the institution.”


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