Lamont Cathey, 17-year-old promising teenager from West Engelwood, currently Cook County Jail inamate is costing the facility 1 million dollars in health care.
Following his institutionalization at the Cook County Jail 16 month ago, Lamont Cathey was unable to post the 5,000 dollars in bonds needed to pay for his low-level burglary charge. The situation seems to have gotten so difficult for the young man that he started ingesting any piece of metal that he could find in his cell.
From needles to screws and larger metal objects, he ingested them all. That resulted in him being hospitalized several times. The costs of hospitalization are reported by Cook County Jail officials at 1 million dollars. In addition, they stated that an extra cost was imposed given the circumstances, when a permanent guard was placed outside the cell of Cathey to prevent him from further harming himself.
The Cook County Jail officials commented that the case of Lamont Cathey speaks thousands about the dangers of placing young men in the system, especially when they have a predisposition for mental health issues or develop them while in jail.
Cara Smith, executive director of Cook County jail commented for the press:
“This case to me is a perfect example of the failure of the criminal justice system. It’s been a crushingly sad and very frustrating case.”
The young West Englewood resident was charged with a petty burglary and since, neither him nor his family were able to gather the 5,000 dollars in cash bond needed for Cathey to regain his freedom. Slowly, the teenager’s mental health seemed to deteriorate and following a plea deal that allowed him to participate in a boot camp, he started ingesting objects.
Adding to the high cost of medical care required to take the objects out of Cathey’s digestive track and keep him on line, the Cook County Jail officials now say that he might be spending time in state prison as well for having shoved a guard.
It is a confusing story for the community. The 17-year-old was known to shine a good prospect on becoming a professional basketball player, starting with Division II College. His family endearingly describes him as a good hearted teenager with a mild temper and hardworking. They also say that before being institutionalized, Lamont never showed signs of depression or any other mental issues.
To this respect, the lawyer team that represents Lamont Cathey clearly stated the young man need psychiatric treatment if he is to stop inflicting harm upon himself.
For Cook County Jail that is an added expense, although a much needed one. Chicago’s West Side facility records an alarming 8,000 inmates who are mentally ill. A result of desperate cuts in mental health services at state, county and city level. For these 8,000 inmates the costs of care are three fold higher compared to the rest.
Nonetheless, Lemont Cathey’s case is a topic for discussion in the City Club of Chicago, underpinning a larger and more complex host of issues facing the justice system.
Image Source: ChicagoTribune