(CHICAGO) – Cook County Sheriff’s Department officials are mandating the use of makeshift “daisy chains” to restrain prisoners at the Criminal Courts Building, putting hundreds of Court Service Deputies in danger due to the questionable craftsmanship of the devices.
Several months ago, department officials ordered the creation of the daisy chains by welding five pairs of handcuffs to a length of chain to allow 10 prisoners to be restrained at one time. Two weeks ago, the use of the chains became mandated.
“This mandate is completely ludicrous. These devices are unsafe, period,” said William P. Logan, Assistant Trustee of Teamsters Local 700, which represents about 220 Cook County Court Service Deputies at the facility at 26th and California. “First of all, there is not enough space between inmates attached to the daisy chains, which compromises the safety of the deputies assigned to transporting the detainees. There already have been reported incidents of inmates fighting while attached to the chains.
“Then you have to consider how these contraptions were constructed. Who put them together? What makes this person qualified to do such work? Who is responsible if they fall apart? In welding the handcuffs and chains, was the strength of the metal depleted?
“When you consider all of these factors, how could anyone possibly find the use of these daisy chains acceptable, let alone required?”
Local 700 representatives filed a grievance on Dec. 3, citing contract language that forbids the County from assigning employees to any known unsafe operations or to operate unsafe equipment. Union representatives requested verification of the daisy chains’ origin as well as verification that the devices comply with all applicable product safety codes and Illinois Jail Standards.
Because this information has not been provided, the union is requesting that use of the daisy chains be rescinded until they are replaced with approved equipment.
“I am astounded that the County officials cannot recognize the incredibly dangerous position they are putting their employees in,” said John T. Coli, Trustee of Local 700. “Protecting our members is the union’s No. 1 priority. It is a disgrace that their employer does not have similar priorities.”