USA / Illinois / Cook County Jail CountyJail.net has 1,393 interviews from ex-inmates. Share your story
Full interview (by category)Interview with Jason, Kat, JM Advice, Brian, DavidP, keke, Teabag, Crystal, Edward, isaac, Lucky, Laydie, 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: Did you have regular access to telephones?
Jason: After I was in a Med unit.
JM Advice: Note: This is a tip submitted by a reader. Let us know if it works for you. Call global tel-link at 1866-650-4349 and set up a prepay account. You will have to send money though western union but they'll give you the details when you call. You can also add money with a credit card when the inmate calls. There will usually be a payphone available for every few hundred inmates. You should have access to it at least once or twice a week. However, be prepared to make your phone calls relatively quick. Not only is there a high demand for the phone, you can only call out using collect calling or pricey calling cards. You are also limited to the numbers you can call. The phones will usually only let you call land lines (not cell phones). Calls are monitored so you need to be careful what you say as you could incriminate yourself or other inmates.
Brian: Yes, well, when I first went there, they told me, "You each get one phone call." That was actually on a payphone, but if that wasn't working, they actually let everyone make a phone call at a certain time. I think it was pretty expensive - I told my friend pretty quickly on the phone what happened to me, and how much money it would take to get bailed out, because in Chicago, you have to pay cash. You can't put it on a credit card, and you have to pay the exact amount of cash. For the phone call, I think it ended up costing $15 or $20, so that's pretty expensive, considering it was only five minutes. Pretty much I knew they were going to charge a lot, so I tried to get everything done as fast as I could, and there were other people waiting to use the phones.
DavidP: No. In the area I was in, this one big room had only two telephones. All jail telephones are collect calls only, or credit card calls [calling cards]. I know that's how it is in other areas too. They only had one or two telephones per floor. Needless to say, two phones for 45 guys isn't much, and I tell you, these guys were conducting business from inside. It's difficult to get access to the phones.
keke: yes but some dont work
Crystal: Collect call phones only when you are out of your cell.
Edward: yes we had pay phones from 9 am to 9 pm unless the officers got angry with anyone and then no.this one time we went 4 days without phones and mail
isaac: during certain hours not during processing 6 phones 1 worked and the gangs like to run them but after processing i was using it imade promises i didnt care about anything i was using it
Laydie: yes phones were in the cell blocks and usable when need.
Kathy: No. Phones broken and damaged.
Janet: YES WHEN YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR CELLS .
Laura: I used the telephone once, maybe twice a week.
Fernando: no regular access to a telephone
Gail: Yes.I have a cell phone.
George: Yes I could talk all day at times.
Rich: THE ARE NUMBERED NUMERICALLY FOR INDENTIFICATION PURPOSES
Mark: some divisions you can use payphones that are in your rooms 24/7 and some divisions you can only use the phones for 1 or 2 hours during the day unless of course the division is on lock down and then you cant even take a shower.
John: yes I did have regular phone access
Juan: yeah but the people you called payed alot just to talk even like 10 minutes
Erik: IN COOK COUNTY NO WE DIDN'T, IN KANE COUNTY YES
Scott: Yes daily and it was all collect calls.
Jason: THE PHONE SYSTEM IS HORRIBLE. YOU HAD TO RECORD YOUR NAME INTO A SYSTEM THAT RECOGNIED YOU EVERY TIME YOU MADE A CALL. YOU COULDN'T MAKE ANY CALLS UNTIL YOU COMPLETED THIS PROCESS. IT TOOK ME 8 DAYS TO MAKE A CALL. THEN YOU HAD TO INFORM YOUR FAMILY TO PUT MONEY ON YOUR PHONE LINE TO RECEIVE THE CALL OR IF YOU WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE MONEY ON YOUR BOOKS PURCHASE A PHONE CARD IN 10$ AMOUNTS TO CALL OUT DIRECTLY.
Shawn: yes but the phone lines were so long they would shut everything down and wouldnt be able to use them
Dominic: Yes, we had access to two phones.
James: tyou had 3 telephones for 48 inmates. no there was enoough at times
Carl: yes we could use the phones all day but they were monitored and we only had 20 mins to use the phone
Josh: Yes but we were locked down 18 hours a day
Jose: Yes, at certain hours when they were not being used.
JM: What types of charges applied for calling people? How much money would you guess the average inmate spends per week on phone calls?
Kat: Pre Paid calls. Outside person sets up account. When you use the payphone to call someone it will walk them through the prepaid process.
Brian: I didn't have to pay, but you have to make a collect call, so pretty much, you have to know who to call. They took my cell phone away, and if I couldn't remember any of my friends' numbers, I couldn't have anyone bail me out. Sometimes you can call a cell phone, some of them you can't, which is one thing some people didn't realize. The first phone I tried to call, his phone wouldn't allow me to call with collect calls, so obviously I couldn't talk to him. Luckily, I called a second person, and it just went right through, so I think it's a good thing to realize, that not everyone's phone allows you to make a collect call to it, so if you don't have your wallet or some change, you're pretty much at the mercy of the situation. I think it's good to memorize some friend's numbers since you won't have your cell phone to call.
DavidP: I can't remember how much it was exactly but it's way cheaper to just get a phone card.
keke: if they didnt have at&t you were burnt up and thats a shame
Teabag: Collect Billing (Local $2.80 first minute and $.55 every minute after) 15 minute time limit on each call
Crystal: Long distance and extra charges - very high rates because of special contracts that the phone company has with the county so that phones are monitored and special messages are given so that those whom you call can block your calls and know you are an inmate.
Edward: i dont remember what it was but i can tell you it was very expensive and you were timed for each call.i think it was 15 min max
Lucky: very expensive
Kathy: Inexcessive. Evercom billing services charges an outrageous fee for one call.
Lisa: $5.00 per call
Apache: collect calls only
Janet: A HALF HOUR CALL COSTS 10.00
Laura: 5.00 for 15 minutes I believe, not too sure.
Fernando: charges are high the inmate generally spends like 10 dollars a week on the phone
Gail: TOO MUCH!!!!!!! At least $50.00 and that's if someone even answers the phone on the other end.
George: The charges applied to the people you called.I think it was 5 dollars per minute.
Rich: ABOUT THREE DOLLARS A POP FO THE INTAL COLLECT CALL, WITH THE FEE RISING EACH ADDITIONAL MIN.
Mark: when i was incarcerated the phones were only collect calls and they would charge you $12.00 a minute i believe. the average inmate would spend $25.00 to $500.00 a week on calls.
John: the charges applied for calling people was outrageous the calls are ike 10 bucks a call for 20to thirty minutes a call in a week that's like 100 dollars
Juan: 20 dollares for like a 10 min call...very expensive to communicate ..paper pencil envelope and stamp costed money too
Erik: IN COOK COUNTY I AM UNSURE HOW IT WORKS, BUT IN KANE, PEOPLE HAD TO BUY PRE PAID CALLING CARDS
Scott: This is hard to say, because the collect calls are very exspensive and a lot of inmate did not have anyone to call.
Jason: FOR 10 DOLLARS YOU CAN GET MAYBE 4 5 MIN CALLS. I SPENT 20$ IN 2 DAYS AND I WAS USING THE PHONE FOR 2 NUMBERS.
Shawn: the phone rates were out of this world if people judtdint call they may be able to get bond money
Dominic: Inmates were only allowed to make collect calls. On average, inmates probably made 60 to 100 dollars in collect calls per week.
James: you can spent a house note on the phone. i think to start off for a couple minut is 3 buck and then maybe 50 cents a minute after
Carl: we had to call someone collect or get some one to get a calling card and an inmate would spend any were of 50 to 150 a week on phone calls
Josh: Cost a minimum of $5 to make the call and then I think 80 cents a minute
Jose: It cost $10 for about a 5 minute conversation with anybody. Each time you call somebody it cost $10. I would estimate the average inmate spends about $30 on the phones.
JM: Did you need to buy phone cards to call out?
Jason: Called collect
Brian: I didn't have a chance to.
DavidP: You could call collect, or use a phone card, like an AT&T type card. When I used it, I called home every second or third day, and it was a collect call. I know, though, that if you had a phone card, you could use that.
keke: no they dont spend money on their inmates just their basic needs cheap a* hard soap nasty a* white cheap chalky toothpaste and one towel for your a* and face
Edward: your freind and family needed to call a number and set up an account with a credit card and deposit 50 dollers at a time and then you would call them collect.
Lucky: you cant
Kathy: They won't let you buy or receive phone cards. Which would make good sense so that the persons loved ones would not have all those collect call charges. Some people can't afford pre-pay to their cell phone.
Apache: dont have em
Janet: NO,NOT AT COOK COUNTY,THEY HAVE THAT AT DUPAGE JAIL.
Ryan: no its all collect
Laura: I did not, my family did.
Fernando: no wasnt able to buy
Gail: They did not have phone cards back in 1997 for sale.
George: No you called collect and it was expensive.
Rich: NO ALL CALLS ARE MADE COLLECT AND SUBJECT TO RECORDING.
Mark: no you don't need phone cards because you can only call collect.
John: the people that your calling have two set up a account
Juan: well my mom bought them..ide call her and she would enter a code (purchased) to talk to me
Erik: NO I HAD NO REAL NEED TO
Scott: No, it was all collect calls.
Jason: YES IF YOU DIN'T ALREADY HAVE A PHONE WITH MONEY ADDED TO THE ACCOUNT. BUT WHO DOES KNOW THAT THEY ARE GOING TO JAIL.
Shawn: no phone cards were not being used at this time
Dominic: No phone cards were available during the time when I was detained
James: yes you had to buy phone cards or have money put on the number dialed
Carl: no we could call collect
Josh: No phone card needed just the other person must accept collect calls
Jose: No, the system automatically charged the phone company.
JM: Did the jail screen your calls?
Jason: Dont know ..I hope so..But they would not do anything to help you..remember you are nothing but a MF....That is everyones name from the second you arrivie
JM Advice: The main limitation of using the phone is other inmates - especially if you are a first-timer the amount of time you will have on a phone will be extremely limited by other inmates higher on the food chain. Also, be aware that when you call somebody there will be an announcement at the beginning of the call telling the caller that you are calling from the Cook County Jail. If you need to contact your employer or anybody else who you may not want to tell that you are in jail you should call somebody you trust and have them make the phone call saying you are unavailable.
Brian: Yeah, they probably did. It didn't say if they were going to or not, but I just assumed that they were going to.
DavidP: When you first make the call, there's a recording that comes on and states to you and the recipient of the call (you have to state your name - you can't just call, even with a calling card phone call) your name. It also says that it's coming from Cook County Correctional Facility - they mention the whole name of the jail - and it states that this call may be monitored. It says that the likelihood that it is being screened is high, and that if you accept this call, you accept those conditions. You don't know which ones are and which ones aren't, but I'm sure most of them are. Also, they open all the mail, of course. They open all of that. Even if it's just a letter or a card, they open all of that. You never open any mail yourself. Same kind of thing [as the phones] - they monitor it.
keke: hell yeah
Teabag: Yes, all cals are monitored and recorded (when the calling system picks up certain words or phrases within your conversation it activates a recording device) and officers in your division and tier are alerted of the nature of your comments. Threats of violence against another inmate, someone involved with your case or the person with whom you are on the phone with.
Crystal: All calls are monitored.
Edward: yes they did and they would tell you when placing a call that they would.
isaac: i'm sure
Lucky: they say they do.
Lisa: yes the screen all calls
Janet: AS FAR AS I KNOW ITS RANDOM OR IF YOUR ON SPECIAL WATCH.
Laura: Often. You could tell when.
Fernando: yes the jail screens your calls
Gail: To my knowledge it says they do when you are on the phone.
George: Yes that was a must.
Rich: YES UR CALLLS WERE SCREENED AND SUBJECT TI BEING RECORDED
Mark: i'm not sure if the jail screened the calls
John: yes the jail screen your calls in maybe record them
Juan: im sure they did,..it wasnt wise to talk about your case over the phone
Erik: NO BECAUSE I MADE NONE
Scott: Yes, they monitor and record all calls.
Jason: ALL CALL ARE SCREENED THUS THE REASON FOR THE VOICE RECOGNITION SYSTEM
Shawn: of course they did which is an invasion of privacy we enot animals just made poor choices
Dominic: Yes, the jails did screen our calls.
James: they record andd screen all calls
Carl: yes they did every time someone used the phone their conversation was being recored
Josh: Thay say on the phone that the call can be monitored
Jose: Yes, of course. There were warnings all over the place to notify us of this.
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