Soc 310 Cook County Jail Reflection Paper Autumn 2009 Our visit to Cook County Jail was very stimulating to say the least. The community that the jail system is located in is primarily filled with Mexican Americans and seems to be very poor. I think that the jail is located there with no consideration of lowering property level due to the fact that it is already a poor neighborhood. I think that it further harms this community because the youth are exposed to jail system unnecessarily.
I think that the jail system being placed in this community benefits the employees that work there, they don’t have the establishment in there community but can travel there and go back home to there possibly safer neighborhoods. I noticed a few disturbing things in the criminal court. This was my first time ever witnessing the court being set up with the audience behind a window; this in my opinion takes away from the entire feel of court. I noticed that every single employee in our court-judge, prosecutor, security guard, secretary were all white.
While all the families in the waiting area were Mexican and African American. I was also disturbed by the behavior of the employees before court started, everybody was laughing and joking together while all of the family members sadly looked on. I also noticed that the judge cut off the microphone quite often and we couldn’t hear what was being said, I found this particularly disturbing because if we were in a traditional court room this wouldn’t have been an option and the family member of the particular inmate was very upset.
The entire experience at the Cook County jail in my opinion was very uncomfortable. From the time we walked in the door the security personnel spoke to us as if we were inmates and told us what to do instead of asking. This directly corresponded to our readings on theories of power, punishment, and control. I felt as if I was a criminal, when I asked the security guard a question he didn’t give me eye contact, he looked over my head and pointed. I also noticed that a lot of the employees seemed unhappy, one employee even swore.
I think this has a great deal of how they treat the general public. I noticed that probably about 90% of the people in line to either go to court for themselves or support a family member were either Mexican American or African Americans-supporting the stereotypes of minorities being criminals, not considering there social problems. The fact that detainees that haven’t been convicted of a crime are housed at Cook County shows one of the many important problems with our criminal justice system.
The primary reason most people can’t bail out is because they are not financially stable. This gives the impression that the rich are above the law. I think that pre-trial detainees are being housed in prisons to receive free labor from them. In my opinion placing someone who hasn’t being convicted in jail gives the message that they are already guilty. What stood out to me most in this fieldtrip was the behavior of the court personnel, they seemed to but very care free and in my opinion they went through the cases with no sentiment or concern for justice.
I don’t think that it is fair to be represented by someone who is on the same payroll of the opposition. I know that public defenders are swamped with cases and this is probably the reason there frustration and lack of effort comes from. I feel that if people in higher authority such as judges and states attorney never have a connection with the social issues faced by minorities they will never understand them as people and will continue to punishment them rather than help them or rectify problem that not just affect individual detainees but entire communities and cities.