releases Bishop’s letter of recommendations to Cook County Board
President Toni Preckwinkle for new policies to address the needs of
the bodies of the indigent
The attached is
a copy of Bishop James Wilkowski’s letter to Cook County Board
President Toni Preckwinkle after his visit to the Cook County
William R. Morton
Office of Media and Public Relations
(T) 773.721.5353 (C) 773.998.2014
“A Welcoming Community of Faith Rooted in the Catholic Tradition”
Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest
Post Office Box 178388 Chicago Illinois 60617-8388
Office: 773-721-5383 Fax: 773-721-2581 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Bishop
President of the Cook County Board
118 N. Clark Street Room 537
Chicago Illinois 60602
Recommendations for redressing concerns at the Cook County Morgue
I hope that
this letter finds you well.
After my visit
to the Cook County Morgue yesterday, may I begin this letter by
thanking you for your desire to address the current problems at the
Cook County Morgue and with your permission; I wish to offer you my
suggestions towards formulation news policies for the disposition of
the remains of the indigents which so often goes unclaimed leaving
the responsibility for disposition to our County.
Permit me to
begin my recommendations by stating that the current policy of
burials of indigents in mass graves has become both outdated and
disrespectful. It has become outdated by the fact that available
land space for mass graves is becoming limited and these burials,
done without traditional burial vaults are also a safety issue.
Despite the fact that the remains of so many of our indigents goes
unidentified, I believe that we are now living in times which no
longer dispenses our society from providing dignified burials for
the unknown and unwanted.
I wish to
suggest that the following steps be considered as an alternative to
the current policies for the disposition of the remains of
Upon taking custody of remains, the Cook County Medical Examiner
will obtain the DNA of the deceased and created an ID record with
After remains have been in the custody of the County for more than
60 days, they will be cremated and place in a simple container with
a file identification number attached and returned to the custody of
the County for storage in a non-refrigerated location with the hope
of possible reuniting with family.
If the cremains of indigents are not claimed within one year, the
County can purchase one or two traditional size grave lots and
install an ossuary as a final dignified resting place for the
cremains of the indigents. And if at some future date in time, a
family member becomes identified, they may be directed to where
there family member has been placed at rest.
I realize that
these suggestions represents a “broad stroke” remedy to this
scandal, but I believe that this scandal demands our County to
consider thinking outside of the current box to policies for new and
caring policies which will allow the County of Cook become the
temple for others to follow.
President, I am fully aware that problems such as what we are
currently faced with cannot be answered overnight. Thus, let me
conclude this letter with one final recommendation:
I ask you to
consider the creation of a Blue Ribbon Committee charged with
providing you and the members of the County Board with
recommendations for solutions to this matter we are facing within a
90 day period. Please consider allowing ordinary citizens of our
County the opportunity to assist you and the Board in finding a
solution to this problem.
If I can be of
any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to call upon me.
Thank you for
taking the time to consider my recommendations.
Yours in Christ,
Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest