John Lambert dropped out of high school, battled addictions to cocaine and alcohol, and was in and out of treatment centers as well as court for minor scrapes with the law. Last year, locked up in Chicago’s Cook County Jail for possessing cocaine and violating probation, his frustrated family chose not to bail him out, thinking he was better off where he could not abuse drugs or alcohol, reports the Chicago Tribune. That proved to be a fatal mistake because he was beaten to death in his cell.
“It’s a homicide,” said a medical examiner. The cellmate, David Jamison, said Lambert sustained the injuries when he fell from the top bunk in their cell. More than a year later, no one has been charged in his slaying. The death was among numerous examples cited in a scathing Justice Department report this summer that found violence rampant at the nation’s largest jail. The investigation also ripped the jail for dispensing medical care so substandard that some inmates died needlessly. A Tribune investigation raises questions why Lambert was in one of the jail’s maximum-security divisions with a dangerous cellmate during his 22-day stint there. Jail paramedics did not respond to emergency calls from guards for help after he was found unconscious in the cell. An hour and half passed before he was taken to a hospital and later underwent brain surgery. The delay in treatment could have cost Lambert his life.