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Internet loses it over ambiguous photo of Chicago inmates shoveling in freezing temps — then the sheriff’s office provides full picture


Context, context, context

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A photo of Chicago-area inmates shoveling snow in freezing temperatures has sparked an outrage on the internet.

Except, naturally, the internet didn't get the full scope of things, and appearances are not always what they seem.

What are the details?

A Chicago-area resident snapped a photo of Cook County jail inmates shoveling sidewalks on the side of the road and shared it on Snapchat. It later made its way to Facebook with the caption, "They got the inmates cleaning with no real winter gear."

At least six inmates can be seen in the photo, which has gone viral at the time of this writing, with many commenters expressing their outrage over the inmates' treatment.

One commenter wrote, "Before we judge we don't know what crimes they committed or what they in jail for. Plus they probably also doing this as work. But this is still messed up."

Another added, "Chicago! Give those inmates the tools and proper attire for the job! They are human too just like everyone else!"

So what did the sheriff's office say about this?

Cara Smith, a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff's Office, told the Chicago Tribune that all was not what it seemed in the photo.

"The situation was entirely and intentionally misrepresented," Smith explained, and noted that the inmates were, indeed, wearing proper clothing underneath their standard orange — and insulated — suits. Smith added that inmates were provided with hats and gloves to protect them from the elements.

Smith also noted that the inmates are part of a vocational program.

"We work very hard to get these young men jobs when they graduate from the program," Smith explained, and revealed that there was even a heated van standing by for the inmates to take breaks.

"I think our track record for caring about the people that are in custody is pretty solid, and we take that responsibility very seriously," she added.

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