Inside Chicago’s Cook County Jail, a wheelchair can be a weapon, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. An inmate in a wheelchair can remove a handrail and turn it into a club. A seat-adjustment handle can be fashioned into a shank. A shank can be hidden in an inmate's colostomy bag. About 60 inmates in wheelchairs are held in special units of the jail awaiting trial.
Most of them were in wheelchairs as a result of the gun violence that city leaders say has lessened but still plagues parts of Chicago, a city where more than 1,800 people were shot last year. Gun violence has stripped many of these men of the use of their legs, their bladders, their bowels. They complain about how gun violence upends neighborhoods. Yet, many themselves await trial on gun charges. Three such inmates agreed to speak to a reporter. All of them were using wheelchairs at the time of the crimes they are accused of committing. Their stories underscore the havoc, both human and financial, that the gun crisis is wreaking throughout the region.