Uvion Junior, 28, has been awaiting trial on murder charges for six years — making him one of the longest-serving inmates at Cook County, Il., Jail in Chicago, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Long-term inmates like Junior are the most likely to be involved in jail violence, says Sheriff Tom Dart. while the number of long-term jail inmates has fallen over the last five years, it remains a costly problem — eating up millions of dollars for food and shelter, delaying justice for both victims and defendants, and making conditions tougher for everyone inside.
Junior is one of 36 inmates who have been awaiting trial more than five years. A total of 430 prisoners have waited two years or more. Prosecutors, public defenders, and judges began meeting in 2003 to bring the number of delayed cases down. The percentage of inmates who have waited more than a year for trial has fallen to 13.7 percent this year from 18.3 percent in 2003. “We created a sense of urgency among all the judges, the defense bar and the prosecutors,” said prosecutor Bob Milan. One way to speed cases is to add judges. The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice last year found that Cook County criminal courts should have 65 judges, but have just 40. The number will increase soon to 45.