The Crusader Newspaper Group

Jackson asks jail detainees to break the code of silence

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

Keeping true to his mission of serving the least of these, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. visited Cook County Jail on Christmas Day “to bring some joy and relief” to the detainees, but to also ask the detainees to break with the code of silence and help identify the shooters who are driving the murder rate close to 800 for this year.

“Most are there temporarily waiting for a pre-trial…just sitting in jail $190 a day. Some have been there five years and cannot get bailed out. They go before the judge who says, ‘You’ve been here longer than your sentence….’”

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s website shows that as of Dec. 23, 2016, the jail population stood at 9,607. There are 7,444 “behind the walls” and another 2,163 on Community Corrections programs. Under the Hardship Project, there are 153 non-violent detainees unable to post a bond of $1,000 or less.

Referring to the Community Corrections program, Jackson said there are 2,163 out of jail, but are on ankle bracelets (electronic monitoring). “This costs $100,000. There are about 4,000 who are mentally-challenged who should be under direct treatment outside the jail.

“Some have been there in jail for five years waiting for bond. They cannot afford to get bailed out. They don’t have the money. For them, jail has become a homeless shelter. It’s become a day care center. Many babies have been born in Cook County Jail.”

Jackson was joined by his pastor, Rev. Clay Evans; Cong. Danny K. Davis (D-7th); Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown; his son, Jonathan; Rev. Janette Wilson; Toni Wilson, a James Brown impersonator; Farley “Jackmaster Funk” Keith, who provided the house music and others.

“It was a pleasure for me to share a portion of my Christmas Day with the inmates of the Cook County Jail to inspire them to change. Everyone deserves a little Christmas cheer,” said Brown who urged them to turn their lives around once they are released.

Brown surprised Rev. Jackson when she came over and danced with the female detainees, but so did Rev. Jackson and Davis. Clay, Jonathan and Pastor Michael Eaddy also gave words of encouragement to the jail population.

Jackson was serious about challenging President Donald Trump and said he has an urban agenda to give to him. “This is the time we challenge this new president to put forth and plan an urban reconstruction and put America back to work.”

He went on to say there are enough jobs to provide work for most people, like removing lead, landscape jobs, fixing houses.

“We should put together a plan for (President-elect Donald) Trump on our own. We cannot wait for them to send us a plan. Send them an urban policy. There may be more jobs than people,” he told reporters. “We want to stop the flow of guns and stop the violence.”

He also asked the detainees for their help. “We need them to help us. They know who has been shot and who is doing the shooting. We need them to help us contact those who are doing the killing.”

Jackson said 75 percent of those who are doing the killing are never found. “We have second- and third-time murderers on our streets. Those who are in jail, we need them to become our partners in the process of making where they live safe for their children so their children can walk the streets and play in the park and go to school in safety.”

He is hoping to inspire and partner with the detainees to break the silence of record-breaking violence in Chicago this year.

Part of Jackson’s urban plan includes creating jobs by removing lead paint; cutting down weeds and bushes; put landscapers back to work; tear down houses that must be demolished; and fix up houses and businesses that can be restored.

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