Sgt. Charles Brazelton: Cook County Jail

Charles Brazelton has been a correctional sergeant at Cook County Department of Corrections for 19 years. He’s in charge of Division 2 Dorm 4, which houses 684 minimum classification inmates.

Brazelton, a thoughtful, purposeful man, is modest when he talks about his work. “We go beyond what the scopes of our jobs are because we actually do care about these inmates,” says Brazelton, who received the Sheriff’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2011.

The Cook County Department of Corrections is one of the largest pre-detention facilities in the U.S., housing an average daily population of 9,000. More recently the number of detainees has topped 10,000, pushing at the seams of the facility’s capacity.

While reporting a story on the high number of dismissed misdemeanor cases, The Chicago Reporter’s photojournalist Sophia Nahli Allison spent time at the corrections facility. She followed Brazelton to get a sense of what life is like for the hundreds being held there. The inmates stared with curiosity and suspicion as her camera captured intimate moments and daily routines. She found the environment more peaceful than she expected, noting the mutual respect that seems to exist between the inmates and guards. She also sensed a kind of sadness, inherent in a place that confines so many, but found Brazelton and his officers trying as best they could to create a sense of community and hope.

[Video by Sophia Nahli Allison]

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