Visiting a Loved One in Cook County Jail

August 15, 2018

By Associate Attorney Bradley Fuller

Venturing to see a friend or family member who is in incarcerated can be a difficult and emotionally taxing experience.  The process can feel both strange and fraught with stressful regulations. However, visiting cherished ones who are unfortunately jailed provides both you and the inmate with precious, necessary human interaction. By simply educating yourself about what to expect, and following a few helpful guidelines, the process can be made much easier, and hopefully even enjoyable.

The Cook County Jail houses innocent persons awaiting trial, and convicted individuals who have been sentence to less than one year of confinement. The jail is operated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department under the direction of Sheriff Tom Dart.  To get the most update and accurate information regarding their practices and policies you should visit https://www.cookcountysheriff.org. Using the Sheriff’s website you may locate an inmate by name and even request visitation.

The inmate locator application found on the above webpage will display an inmate’s booking date, jail number, and housing location. You must allow at least 24 hours after arrest for the website to update. Additionally, you may retrieve valuable information such as your loved one’s bond amount, court location, and next court date using the inmate locator.

To send money to a cook county inmate remotely you will need their moneygram receive code and account number which can also be found using the inmate locator button on the Cook County Sheriff’s website. Also, you may personally deposit inmate funds 24 hours a day at the automated kiosk found in the cook county corrections lobby located at 2700 S. California Ave. Chicago, IL 60608.

The mailing address for sending letters to detainees is:

P.O. Box 089002
Chicago, Illinois 60608

Be sure to include the detainees name along with this address and the inmate booking number. Again, this booking or “I.D.” numbers can be retrieved using the above website or from the sheriff’s automated system by calling 773-674-5245.

In order to find your loved one’s visitation hours you must first determine their housing location. Visitation hours typically run about every other day from 8:30am to 1:30pm and then from 3:30pm to 8:30pm. You can find a complete visitation schedule by visiting this web address https://www.cookcountysheriff.org/cook-county-department-of-corrections/inmate-visitation-schedules/.  Visitors with disabilities who require special accommodations should contact the ADA Compliance Office by calling 773-674-7768 during normal business hours, or emailing CCSO.ADA@cookcountyil.gov.

 

If you have additional questions you may call the Cook County Jail customer service line at 773-674-1945 from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 7 days a week.

Before making a visit, please confirm with the Jail that your loved one has also requested a visit, and that visitation has been approved. Inmates are generally able to make visitation requests from kiosks within the jail or by speaking to an appropriate corrections officer. In certain circumstances, such as health reasons or disciplinary sanctions, inmates may be unavailable for family and friend visits.  Understand that while the Sheriff’s Office does understand that visitation is important, social visits are a privilege and the frequency of visits is strictly limited. Expect that each visitor will be allowed approximately one visit per week, and inmates are typically allowed only one visit per day. Most locations will allow adults to bring a minor child to the session. If bringing a child you should prepare the minor to behave appropriately in an adult setting.  Again, Inmates who are segregated for medical reasons, security issues, or jail rule violations may have substantially reduced visitation schedules.  

To ensure that you will be afforded the full time allotment with your loved one arrive at least fifteen minutes early for your visitation session. The Cook County jail is shamefully understaffed and there are often long lines entering the visitation areas.

Make certain to bring with you a valid and current government identification card (such as a driver’s license or military I.D.) to the desk for check in. Be aware that some locations do not allow cell phones or other recording devices onto the premises, so it is advisable to keep your tech devices in the car or at home during your visit. Certain locations do have paid lockers to store disallowed items so it is a good idea to bring coins. Where your loved one is located you should prepare to pass through a strict security check point complete metal detectors and armed deputies. Do not wear bulky or expensive jewelry and of course do not possess contraband of any kind especially drugs or weapons.   Anyone caught trying to bring such items inside the Cook County Jail system will be subject to arrest and prosecution  

As previously stated, visiting a friend or family member in the Cook County Jail can be an emotional and naturally upsetting event. However, it is important to try and remain calm and civil at all times during the process.  The Sheriff’s office does have discretion to remove disruptive visitors and even bar members of the public from future visits. Scrupulously follow all posted regulations regarding procedure and behavior during your visit. Attempting to visit an inmate while you are intoxicated is immediate grounds for revocation of your visitation privileges.  It is also a good idea to dress in comfortable, business casual attire.  You want to make a good, semi-formal visual impression upon the jail staff and jail inmates. Treat both other visitors, inmates, and corrections officers with kindness and respect.  Cook County Sheriff’s deputies have a difficult job and a friendly smile and likeable disposition go a long way towards making your visit as positive as possible.

During your visit you should always strive to maintain a civil and controlled manner.  Loud, obscene, or otherwise offensive behavior will not be tolerated.  Understand that while the corrections officers have no interest in your private affairs, visits may be monitored or even recorded to protect against illegal or incriminating communications. If you are in any way involved in the inmate’s criminal case, you should contact an experienced lawyer before having any interaction with an inmate. Co-Defendant’s are summarily denied visitation.

Modern jail visits are generally conducted via telephone and a closed circuit television  Accept that that you will not be permitted to make physical contact with your friend or family member, and that you may not pass to them any materials such as love letters or currency.

Your time will be strictly limited so it may be helpful to plan in advance all items that you wish to discuss with your loved one.  Consider making a list of topics that must be addressed during your visit.  Remember that many inmates are desperate to make arrangements regarding their housing, employment, schooling, benefits, medication, parenting, and other critical life situations.

While it is always advisable to NEVER discuss the facts of an inmate’s pending case, it may be useful to assist the inmate in obtaining effective legal representation.  The attorneys at Illinois Advocates are experienced, passionate, and eager to provide a free consultation regarding your loved one’s case. Any information or questions you have regarding the criminal charge should always be communicated through an experienced criminal attorney and never talked about during a visitation.

While incarceration is inescapably unhappy, you should be supportive and encouraging.  Recommend to your friend or family member to take advantage of the many programs that the Cook County Jail system offers including educational and therapeutic courses.  However, understand that inmates may be ineligible for certain programs and there is often a wait list to join the most popular sessions. 

Visitation rooms are typically crowded and noisy.  When speaking via phone it is helpful to cup your hand around the mouthpiece and wear and earplug in your opposite ear to dampen ambient sound.  If another visitor is being unreasonably distracting you should notify a corrections officer.  You have a right to a meaningful visitation with your loved one.

Commissary is an important privilege to all Cook County inmates. Commissary is like a local general store inside the jail that offers inmates additional clothing, stamped envelopes, toiletries, phone cards, and supplementary food items.  If you desire to make your loved one’s stay in the Cook County Jail more tolerable you may provide them with money for commissary items. This transaction can be completed on kiosks in the jail lobby, USPS, currency exchanges, and other methods. For specific instructions on providing commissary funds you may call the Cook County Jail Finance Office at 773-674-6860 during the hours of 8am. to 4pm.

If your loved one has critical items in his or her property that they wish to release to you such as house keys or benefits cards, they must make an official request and complete the request documentation.  No items will be released from property unless they have absolutely no relation to a pending charge or investigation and they are critical to daily life. 

Don’t forget that visitation rooms and two-way are heavily trafficked and often unsanitary. It is always a good idea to wash your hands and face both before and after making a jail visit to avoid the transmission of any communicable diseases. 

Visiting a friend or family member in the Cook County jail is never a welcomed experience. However, by following the advice in this article, your session can be effective, safe, and perhaps even pleasurable.  If you have a loved one in the Cook County Jail who needs help of any kind, please contact the dedicated attorneys at Illinois Advocates for a free consultation.

"At Illinois Advocates, Attorney Bradley Fuller's expertise constantly proves to be a useful resource for his clients," says Joseph Coli, Partner at Illinois Advocates.  

If you need more information, call Illinois Advocates today.

Illinois Advocates
77 W. Washington St.
Suite 2120
Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 312-818-6700
Fax: 312-492-4804