$1 million medical bill: Chicago teen tries to break out of jail by eating screws, tacks

Photo: Cook County Jail
Photo credit: Cook County Jail

Some people when they go to jail will try many ingenious ways to escape from custody. Whether it’s digging their way out of a cell or sawing through bars the desire to escape is real. However, one Chicago teen is taking escape to an entirely new level, he’s eating the Cook County Jail.

Lamont Cathey, 17, was a high school basketball player who made a bad decision. Cathey attempted to rob the safe at a local pizzeria, because he was not able to pay a bond of $5,000 he has been in jail for the past 16 months. When a plea deal could not be reached, Cathey started picking up small metal objects such as tacks, nails and screws he found in the jail and began eating them. His unusual diet has led to at least 30 emergency operations and has cost Chicago taxpayers close to $1 million to remove the objects he swallowed.

But Cathey is more than a sneaky inmate, he is a troubled youth who stands at more than 6 feet, 8 inches. It was his height that made him a star basketball player at the alternative high school he attended. According to his lawyers, Cathey suffers from depression and other serious mental health issues, and that is why he is harming himself..

It is estimated that there are close to 8,000 prisoners at Cook County Jail and at least 2,000 are in need of psychiatric care. For now, Cathey has been moved to a newer part of the jail where finding loose objects should be less likely. His family hopes that he can turn his life around and get the mental health care he needs.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



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