Family of woman who hanged herself at Cook County Jail files suit

SHARE Family of woman who hanged herself at Cook County Jail files suit
SHARE Family of woman who hanged herself at Cook County Jail files suit

The father of a 30-year-old woman who hanged herself while held at the Cook County Jail last year has filed a federal lawsuit claiming correctional officers ignored the woman’s heroin withdrawal, asthma and mental health problems leading up to her suicide.

Jaclyn Clair was booked Jan. 27, 2015, for a retail theft charge in Norridge and was found hanging in her cell Feb. 5, authorities said at the time.

Jail intake officers “failed to recognize, or deliberately disregarded her serious medical and psychiatric problems” when Clair was booked, including “severe and obvious” withdrawal symptoms, according to the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by her father Thomas Clair.

Her family and attorney complained to jail officials about Clair’s “deteriorating physical and mental state,” and on Jan. 28 appealed to a judge who placed her on substance abuse and mental health evaluation for 90 days as she awaited trial, the suit claims.

About 3:30 a.m. Feb. 5, Clair was suffering from “severe mental distress” when she told a correctional officer she was having chest pains, the suit says. The officer took her to a nurse who then sent her back to her cell without treatment, the suit says.

Clair was found hanging at 5:30 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene, according to the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy ruled her death a suicide.

“Ms. Clair’s death was very tragic, but these allegations are outrageous and we will vigorously defend against them,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said in an email Thursday night.

The seven-count suit claims jail staff should have known Clair was at risk of harming herself and should have been under close supervision. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

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