The Cook County Jail in Chicago is one of the largest county jails in the United States, holding up to 9,000 inmates on any given day. It is estimated that approximately one third of these inmates are mentally ill. Indeed, Cook County officials have stated that the jail is, in effect, the largest mental health facility in Illinois.
Unfortunately, and as I have written in other posts, it is not unusual for a jail or prison facility to hold such a large number of mentally ill inmates. What is unusual at Cook County, however, is the fact that the new director of the jail is a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia. Dr. Jones Tapia is apparently no stranger to the issues of mentally ill jail inmates or the situation in Cook County, having previously been in charge of the jail’s four divisions that house its large population of inmates with mental health issues.
Statistics show that the overall inmate population at the jail may be falling; however, the number of inmates with mental health issues either remains constant or increases. These inmates suffer from the entire array of mental health problems including, without limitation, depression and bipolar disorder. Some of them are floridly psychotic and require stabilization. Continue reading