A lawsuit filed by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office after mass arrests during the George Floyd protests in May 2020 has forced the Chicago Police Department to allow arrested individuals access to a phone within three hours, reports Heather Cherone for WTTW. The agreement settled the lawsuit through a consent decree enforced by Cook County Judge Neil Cohen, which will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
As part of the consent decree, Chicago police must install telephones in every interrogation room, post signs with information about how to get access to a lawyer free of charge and create private rooms for attorneys to consult with their clients. Data collected by the Cook County Public Defender’s office between April 16, 2020, and June 5, 2020, showed that 23 percent of those arrested in Chicago were not offered the opportunity to make a phone call after they were taken into custody at any point. Another 22 percent of arrestees said they had to wait five or more hours to use the phone.