USA / Illinois / Cook County Jail CountyJail.net has 1,378 interviews from ex-inmates. Share your story
Full interview (by category)Interview with Rachel, Jason, Kat, JM Advice, Brian, DavidP, keke, Teabag, Crystal, Edward, isaac, Lucky, Kathy, Lisa, Apache, Janet, Ron, Ryan, Laura, Fernando, Gail, George, Rich, Mark, John, Juan, Erik, Scott, Shawn, Dominic, James, Carl, Josh and Jose
Getting along with other inmates
Time off for good behavior
Food and Commissary
JM: How many different blocks were there?
Kat: I don't know
JM Advice: The cell blocks are numbered based on when they were built.
Brian: I'm not sure about all of them - I didn't spend too much time there.
DavidP: I'm not sure, but I think there were 12 for women and men total. I know there are a couple of buildings that were maximum security for men, a couple for women, about four or five regular ones for men and women, and then a couple of these medical-type wards or buildings that I was in.
Teabag: The Department of Corrections complex consists of 11 separate Divisions/units.
Crystal: Cook County is the largest jail in the country with 9,000-11,000 inmates there on any one day. There are 11 divisions. The Cook County Jail web site describes each division which may hold 500 to 1500 or so inmates each. There are some dormitories for min security, and high security almost supermax divisions and Cermak which house the medical and mental health infirmiries each with about 10-30 inmates per unit.
Edward: in mine it was 4 dorms with differant decks
isaac: dont know alot
Lucky: I only know a few in cook county jail. Division 1 is max, Division 2 is minimum, Division 4 females, Division 5 and 6 are medium, Division 9 is max, Division 10 is max, Division 11 is medium.
Lisa: dont kno
Apache: 5 houses 5 tiers in each
Janet: FOR THE WOMEN THERE IS OR SHOULD I SAY WAS BECAUSE I HEARD ITS DIFFERENT NOW BOT THERE WAS DIVISION 3,4,AND17 THE DRUG UNIT.
Ron: 12 blocks
Ryan: I think Cook County has 9 divisions with aprox. 20 blocks ineach.
Laura: Too many, I only seen two.
Fernando: 12 different cell blocks from what i could tell
Gail: ???13.they continued to build Divisions while I was incarcerated
George: There were 25-30 I guess.It's a huge jail.
Rich: THERE WERE AT LEAST TWENTY DIVISONS
Mark: there were hundreds of blocks
John: I was in three different ones
Juan: not too sure heard maybe 10 divisions ranked on the seriousness of offense
Erik: I AM NOT CERTAIN, 4 I BELIEVE
Scott: numerous it all depends on where you are housed.
Jason: DON'T KNOW BUT AS I WAS ON THE 3RD FLOOR DORM FF I WOULD SAY 31. IN DIVISION 2 AT LEAST MAYBE MORE. SOME DORMS HOLDING UP TO 300 SOME ONLY 46
Shawn: about 12 the one on hickrt
Dominic: There are four levels in Division ten
James: 12 or more i am not sure i didn't get all over the division
Carl: there are 12 div in cook county jail
Josh: At least At least 12 divisions
Jose: I don't remember exactly how many.
JM: Did they have names? If so, what were they?
Rachel: i dont know
Jason: Could not tell...I have a Med problem so I was moved to a Med unit after 24 hours of hell with about 250 other men and in the group maybe 4 other white people and the rest black or haspnic. I WANT TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR I AM NOT A PERSON THAT SEE`S COLOR, I HAVE FRIENDS FROM EVERY WALK OF LIFE.
JM Advice: There are no fancy names at Cook County Jail, simply cell block 1, block 2, etc.
Brian: Not sure.
DavidP: Yes, they're numbered, like Building 3 or Building 4.
keke: k1,p2,m1 stuff like that
Teabag: Division 1 (Max) Division 2 (Minimum) Division 3 (Female) Division 4 (Female) Division 5 (Medium) Division 6 (Medium) Division 8 (Minimum) Hospital Unit and Drug Unit Division 9 (Max) Division 10 (Max) Division 11 (Super Max) Division 14 (Minimum) Drug Unit
Crystal: Division 1-11 and Cermak (infirmary) is part of Division 8.
Edward: mine was div 1 dorm 1 c deck, it was a,b,c,d,e,f,g all in dorm 1.same with dorm 2 and 3 and 4
isaac: dont know
Lucky: Div 1, 9, 10 are as close to hell as you can get on earth.
Kathy: Don't know.
Lisa: dont kno
Apache: e house b west b east i house h house g dorm f house
Janet: LIKE P1,JI,CABBAGE PATCH(UNDER 21)K1 (THE HOLE)
Ryan: Yes 2j 3b 3c 3d 3e etc.......
Laura: Division 1-?. They change a lot.
Fernando: none had name just letters like c-block b ect easy
Gail: Division/Tier. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 etc.... For Tiers they had letters like B,C,D,F,G,J etc.... Ask me about 1988 when I was only 17 and they called the tier I was on the Cabbage Patch in 1988 because it was the young bucks tier..I have stories about 1988 more than this experience I am describing now...Sexual advances,fights,gang affiliations....But that's another story and another compensation for that story...:) Notice the 10 year gap between my incarcerations..
George: The were numbered and lettered,not names.Like 10 h or 5 g.
Rich: NO THEY DID NOT HAVE NAMES ONLY NUMBERS AND LETTERS
Mark: they had different divisions numbered 1-12 i believe and some division had multiple blocks inside.
John: 3g 2e and I was on a working deck that's all
Juan: divisions many diferent ones 10 all together and some had black mold on the walls or no hot water
Erik: I BELIEVE THERE WAS 1, 2, 3, 4, IF THERE WERE MORE I DON'T KNOW
Scott: It goes along the lines of the alphabet abcdefg...etc., etc.
Jason: THEY WERE NUMBERED DIVISIONS 1 THRU 11 I BELIEVE. THERE ARE SPREAD OUT.
Shawn: the names of the officers were seen on thir badge
Dominic: Don't remember them having names. But I do remember them being called decks instead of floors.
James: they were letter of the alphabet. then double letters i imagine if they ran out
Carl: i only knew of one name they had for a div and that was div 5 they called it the gladiator arena
Josh: Division 1,2,3,5,6,9,10,11,12,14. Drug unit, Bible Unit, Cermak Hospital, Anti-Gang, Veteran
Jose: They were labeled with different letters such as a,b,c,d, etc. Just different letter designations.
JM: Which types of inmates were housed in the different blocks?
Jason: Don`t know..
Kat: They did call them by numbers
JM Advice: The different blocks are dedicated to different levels of inmates (what security level you are assigned). You do not have any say in your assigned cell block, so there's not much point in asking. The Cook County Jail website has a good overview of the different cell blocks and which inmates are housed there. At any given time the jail has 9,000 inmates so figuring out which housing unit you may end up in can be difficult.
Brian: Um, you know, actually, the interesting thing is before I went to court, they did this thing, like I told you, where they give you these uniforms, and they actually did a strip search where they make you strip naked and make sure you weren't bringing any weapons into the jail. That took a long time, actually, because they had to call your name, and put you through this assembly line kind of thing, and then, after I was released, they put us through a health check, where they do various things, like they did an STD checkup on our genitals, they took our weight, our height, and just a variety of...you know, it's almost like a physical. I didn't understand why they were doing this, because I was pretty much planning on getting out that day, but I guess once you're state property, they want to keep track of anyone that's been through county jails for reference. That's actually why it took such a long time. They went through all that, even though I had a more minor offense, they still make you go through everything.
DavidP: If you have to have medical surveillance, then you go in one of these buildings that I was in. I'm not certain that there were 12, but there were quite a bit, and it was somewhere around there.
keke: the no bonds are housed downstairs in the female division and the people with bonds are housed upstairs
Teabag: Cook County Department of Corrections houses 14,000+ inmates on any given day. Overcrowding is a serious problem within the jail system.
isaac: min med max
Lucky: 1, 9, 10 houses violent offenders usually murderers.
Kathy: Murderers, rapists, and such
Lisa: dont kno
Apache: all mixed in
Janet: DEPENDING ON THERE TYPE OF CRIME AND AGE.
Ryan: Depend on nature of the offense
Laura: Based on crime, severity of crime.
Fernando: different crimes,robbery,murder,rape,put uyou in the blocks,like min med and max,all types of inmates are housed there,quiet ones,crazy ones,loud and grimy type men who really should have mental services applied to
Gail: Depending on the severity of your crime or depending on whether you were incarcerated previously for is what determined where you went.I'm pretty sure they have statuses for repeat and violent crime offenders which determines the environment you are most suitable to be placed in but that is a bunch of bull.
George: There were all kind.Theft,killers,all kinds.The murderers were on certain floors and the thieves were on certain floors.The fighters were on certain areas.It was all mixed in together,so thats how it was.
Rich: THEY TRIED TO KEEP THE KIDS TOGETHER UNLESS THEY REALLY HAD ADULT CHARGES. BUT IT WAS'NT UNUSAL FOR TRAFFIC OFFENDERS TO BE MIXED IN WITH SOMEONE FACING A MURDER BEEF
Mark: all type of inmates where housed inside. minimum security divisions would have inmates in there charged with murder and inmates charged with lesser crimes such as driving with a suspended license such as in my case. the jail was over crowded and they couldn't separate inmates by how severe their charges where.
John: the type of inmayes on these different blocks were workers when I was on the working deck small sentences other decks were high security decks you know people who where a little bit more violent and had serious cases
Juan: murderes.. and violent criminals...then mental acses where in a division with nice beds and better treatment wasnt in a cell but a huge 100 person pod witha bunch of bunkbeds...people came and went daily..everyday about 25 people went to court and ant night maybe 3 were let go. and the rest stayed .
Erik: THE INMATES WERE HOUSED BASED ON THE SEVERITY OF THERE CRIME, AS WELL AS THE TIME THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE HELD INSIDE THE COOK COUNTY JAIL OR TRANSPORTED
Scott: All types in all depended on a persons bond background, a space in the division. Division 10 is known for high bonds and repeat offenders and criminal history, but mostly space in the jail.
Jason: THEY SEEM TO BE SORTED BY AGGRESSION OR CHARGE. YET A PERSON DEMEANOR UPON ENTRY ALSO PLAYED A FACTOR AND CRIMINAL HISTORY. THIS SEEM TO BE AT THE DISCRETION OF THE SOCIAL WORKER WHO PROCESSED YOU IN
Shawn: different inmates in each division which the problem is that the officers lock them down all the time so its 1 hr usually tough living you can run into sex offenders murders etc
Dominic: Their were Christian inmates housed in on a Christian deck. There was the over forty deck for inmates forty years old and older. There was a time deck for inmates who had been sentenced already for a crime but were still fighting other cases.
James: aagin i had but a couple days but they seem to keep the age groups pretty close. 30 and up in one and 30 and under in another. they may put a few big boys or shot caller to control things where needed
Carl: the lower number divs were for non violent people and the higher the div the more violent the person tends to be 1-6 was like low to med violent and 7-12 was for more violent people up for murder or attempted murder
Josh: 5,6 was medium, Div. 2 was minium, Div1,9 was Max. Div 11 was medium. Div 14 was a drug unit. There was a veteran deck, anti-gang deck, and bible deck also. Anti-gang unit. Protective custody
Jose: I'm not exactly sure how they separated the housing blocks, but I do know they separate gangs so similar gangs are housed in the same block to avoid jail violence. They also separated criminals according to the severity of their crime. from min, med, to max.
JM: What do you remember being the nicest and worst parts about the different blocks?
Jason: Nothing...you have the worst already..Nothing is nice about it in anyway.
Kat: Nothing nice they were all dirty and gross.
Brian: Wasn't there long enough to really see anything nice. I didn't like how crowded it was.
DavidP: First, you want to stay out of the maximum security ones, and then you want to stay out of the general population ones if you can, because more fights happen there - the areas intermingle, they're bigger buildings, and you go out in the yard and there are just more possibilities to have trouble there. If possible, stay out of those. There are minimum security ones that are better, but again, you have no say, so it's not like you can petition to get the better one.
keke: in cook county jail there isnt a nice part
Teabag: Division 11 was the cleanest area i have ever been in when doing time or fighting cases in Cook County Jail.... It was the newest Division in CCDOC (Built in 1995). Originally built to be part of the Illinois Department of Corrections but the plan was scrapped because of community outrage over a prison being built in such a densly populated urban area. Division 11 is a state-of-the-art, 640,000 square-foot, Super Maximum security facility. Consists of a central core surrounded by four housing PODS, Division 11 can house 1,536 male inmates. All activity is controlled and monitored by a touch screen security system.
Crystal: Cermak is cleaner than the rest of the jail, but can be tough in other ways such as food tends to be cold and rules stiffer such as no food commissary.
Edward: the nicest thing i can remmember about c deck was it was clean.we all helped out.one person at a time for showers and windows.the worst thing was some people.these people had no respect for anyone.they were loud,lazy and dirty.c deck was a working deck and some people would just stay up all night and be as load as they wanted even when you asked nicely to be quiet.that used to get me angry and i hated it and these people wouldnt even work.90 percent of the people on c deck worked and 10 did nothing.
isaac: all shit
Lucky: 11 was clean!
Apache: there all the same what you make of it
Janet: THERE BASICALLY ALL THE SAME,YOUR LOCKED UP.
Ryan: availability of drugs or cigarrettes
Laura: Some parts got better sunlight, being East. Some had a view of California Aveue. Mine had a view of the Men's Mental Health Ward where we watched whackos masturbate in the window every night.
Fernando: the nice part about the block is the personnel,they were not to cruel to us,and allowed you time to do what they be asking you,the worst part was the gang situation was is so prevalent in the county jail,always seeing them gang up together,to start trouble for others who there
Gail: The nicest part was being on a tier and getting along with others and remaining safe.The worst parts were when your charge is as bad as mine I was housed with murderers and other violent offenders who I did not necessarily want to associate with.The hard core inmates,lesbians and troublemakers.
George: The nicest was that I had family visits with my children and parents.My friend s came by at times also.My cell mate was a magic man so that was fun also.The worst was to see someone get their head busted in half.It was so scary I was ready to get out of there.
Rich: THERE WAS'NT ANYTHING NICE ABOUT BEING LOCKED UP! SHIT YOU'RE MORE CONFINED WITHOUT THE MOVEMENT OF THE STREETS. SO TRUST AND BELIVE IF THERE'S A HIT OUT ON YOU, YOU WILL BE DELT WITH TO THE FULLEST, BE IT A BOUNTY OR DONE BY SOMEONE WHO'S GOT FOOTBALL NUMBERS ANYWAY.
Mark: i don't remember anything about any blocks being nice. unless i tell you that we actually had toilets with tissue and running water. other than that you are in hell in that place. the worst part was when you don't have any guards to protect you. the guards would always leave and then the fights would start.
John: I remember the nicest thing about the working deck that you got extra time off the tier extra food plus you got two bring back snacks from the kitch in get extra trays the worst part is whrn your use two being around a certain amout of people in when u get moved you have to get use to new people in how they are
Juan: trying to take a shit when dehrdrated coming off meth i had to use my hand to pull it out so to speak..itwas hard to sleep at night,,the meals sucked ..i9f you didnt have comoney on the books it was rough for you,...the different shifts had different cops ..some cops the night shift would take priveleges away alot
Erik: THE CONDITIONS IN COOK COUNTY WERE HORRIBLE, NOT SUITED FOR HUMAN DWELLING, THERE WAS MAGGOTS INSIDE THE SHOWER, THE MATERIALS WE WERE GIVEN WERE EITHER SUB PAR OR NON EXISTENT, IN KANE COUNTY ALL OUR BASIC NEEDS WERE MET WITH EXCEPTIONAL CARE, AND A GREAT DEAL OF COMMON COURTESY FOR THE INMATES
Scott: There is no nice blocks, jail is jail, but with that said the level if mental comfort can change and that is huge, because if you are not a young punk you really don't want to be around the young pucks, so some cell blocks do have age requirements and gang associations.
Jason: THE NICEST PART WAS i KNEW A FEW OF THE GUARDS. THE WORST PART WAS THE FOOD. IT WAS HORRIBLE. ONE SANDWICH A DAY FOR LUNCH, PEANUT BUTTER OR BOLOGNE. COOKIES AND A KOOL AID MIX. CAT FOOD OR DOG FOOD FOR DINNER AS IT WAS CALLED OR SLOP WHEN IT COULDN'T BE RECOGNIZED AS EITHER OF THE PREVIOUS MEANTIONED.
Shawn: there isnt anything nice about being incarcerated the worst was you knew that if someone was going to fight you would have to or get picked on for the remainder of the time thta you were going to be there ther eis also not alot to do to rehabilitate myself
Dominic: The best part of the deck I was detained on was how the visiting room was located right next door and was clearly visible to the inmates. Inmates only had to travel several feet to their visits instead of being escorted in shackles to another part of Cook County jail. The worst part was how the showers were wide open with no shield for privacy and was located right in the middle of the dayroom.
James: they was relatively clean. they was a tv on the block which stayed on a majority of the day. you had opportunity to use the shower. there was also microwaves available. however they was over used there was a wait to use them and that sometime lead to arguement and fights but usually things went peaceful
Carl: the nicest part was being in div 4 this was for people that was doing work details here we could stay up as long as we wanted and ate really good the worst was in div 5 were i had to share a cell with 2 other people and since i was the last to come into the cell i had to sleep on a thin mat on the floor
Josh: Div 5, 6 was all the attempted murdering punk kids. Really nasty and dirty. They would have knife fights between the different gangs. Div 14 had real windows and had regular yard. Div 14 was like being housed in an enclosed barn with no windows. Div 14 is the newere part of the jail so it was a little cleaner.
Jose: I remember the block I was in was one of the calmer, more civilized blocks. Once I left the block to work or move about the jail, I could see the whole block flashing gang signs and getting crazy through the glass that looked inside the different areas of the jail. This was obviously the bad part of that certain block.
comments powered by Disqus