NATO terrorism defendants kept in ‘observation’ cells
One of their lawyers says the jail conditions amount to ‘sensory deprivation’ intended to hamper the defense.
May 22, 2012
By: Chip Mitchell

A spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says three anti-NATO protesters accused of terrorism conspiracy have been held around-the-clock since Saturday in white-walled observation cells, where they are isolated from each other and the rest of the inmate population and kept from writing materials, books and all other media.

“It’s for their own safety and the safety of the [jail] staff and other inmates,” the spokesman, Frank Bilecki, said Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously we’re concerned about their mental status and well-being.”

Bilecki said Gary Hickerson, acting executive director of the sheriff’s Department of Corrections, ordered the observation because the defendants are young and because their charges are serious. Bilecki said the decision had nothing to do with behavior since arrest and that the State’s Attorney’s office had no input into the confinement conditions.

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