Saturday, February 17, 2018

Is anyone really shocked the jail inmates cheered for the cop killer?

I really have a hard time believing that Cook County sheriff’s police officials could be shocked that jail inmates awaiting their day in court on Thursday would cheer for the guy who’s facing criminal charges for the shooting death earlier this week of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Defendant? Or anti-hero?
If anything, I’d be shocked to learn they had been respectful of their jailers, or the legal system that I’m sure many of them believe is railroading them into a few years’ residence within the state prison system.

NEWS ACCOUNTS FROM both of the major metro newspapers (Sun-Times, Tribune) indicate the sheriff, who runs the county jail and criminal courts complex, wants to identify the disrespectful inmates.

With their names to be turned over to the assistant state’s attorneys who are prosecuting their pending criminal cases. Their hope is that someday, those disrespectful inmates will have extra time added to their punishments because of their behavior this week.

While several of the inmates awaiting trial in Cook County may wind up finding themselves transferred to county jails elsewhere. They may wind up awaiting trial in some rural county jail where their legal proceedings will be far more complicated to carry out.

But a little bit of inconvenience is being deemed as warranted for acting as though Shomari Legghette were some sort of hero because of the half-dozen gunshots he fired when Bauer tried to catch him Wednesday at the Thompson Center state government building.

THE NEWSPAPERS ARE going along with this tone – the county sheriff provided video taken of a holding cell so we can see, and hear, crude images of the cheering inmates as Legghette is brought past their cell en route to the courtroom – where a judge decided that Legghette should await trial inside the jail without the option of bond.

Now I’m not saying I think these inmates were anything but buffoons in the way they behaved, or that Bauer (who will get the full-ritual police funeral on Saturday) is deserving of disrespect.

It’s just that I wouldn’t expect anything but tacky behavior from jail inmates.

No matter what legal basis there is for saying these men (including Legghette) are innocent until proven guilty, the fact is that many of them are misfits from the standard beliefs of our society.

WHICH IS WHAT led most of them to actions that would bring them under suspicion by police and prosecutors and cause them to have criminal charges pending against them.

Besides, there’s something about incarceration that would break the spirit of just about anybody – surround yourself with enough misfits, and you’ll find yourself starting to take on their ideals.

I remember one time I was inside the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet (as a reporter-type person). As the group I was with was passing the roundhouses, we could hear the inmates taunting us – letting us know they regarded us as being as much a part of the problem as anybody else.

It was execution duty (back in the days when Illinois still committed homicide in the name of justice), and the inmates let me and others know we would “burn in Hell” as much as anyone else for being a part of the ritual.

I ALSO RECALL crude and vulgar threats shouted specifically at the prison staffers – letting them know how they would be “f---ed up” by the inmates if they ever wound up inside the prison proper.

With that kind of mentality, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to learn that some of the county jail inmates (some of whom are bound to wind up in the Illinois Corrections Department eventually) would think cheers and applause would be worthy of a man charged with the shooting death of a cop.
Could he be Cook County sheriff?

So to learn that aides to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart are saying the inmate behavior is “disgraceful and despicable, just beyond the pale” has a familiar ring to it.

Something similar to that of Capt. Renault from “Casablanca,” when he uttered his now-memorable line about being “shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is taking place on the premises” of Rick’s Café. Both of them are worthy of an equally insincere sigh.


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