Monday, January 30, 2012

My Letter to Governor Quinn regarding the Cook County Morgue scandal.

The Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest
Post Office Box 178388
Chicago Illinois 60617-8388

Office of the Bishop

January 30, 2012

The Honorable Pat Quinn
Governor for the State of Illinois
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield Illinois 62706

Dear Governor Quinn:

I hope that this letter finds you well.

I am writing to you in my capacity as the Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest regarding the latest scandal that has hit the Cook County Morgue.

It is my belief that the current policies of the Cook County Morgue regarding the final disposition of the remains of indigents are outdated for the Twenty-First century. I believe that the practice of burial by mass grave is disrespectful to the basic dignity of human life. We do better with the carcasses of animal road kill than we do with the remains of the indigents.

I am reaching out to you to ask your assistance to the creation of legislation that would standardized within the State of Illinois a common policy for the final disposition of the remains of indigents.

Permit me the opportunity to share with you recommendations which I have made to Cook County Board President Preckwinkle on this matter:

• Upon taking custody of remains, the County Medical Examiner will obtain the DNA of the deceased and created an ID record with this information.

• 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 the current scandal that has again happened in Cook County calls our state community to consider thinking outside of the current box to policies for new and caring policies which will allow the State of Illinois to become the template for others to follow.

I invite you to consider my plea to you and to help create the appropriate legislation to redress this issue.

Please know that I have committed myself to this issue and to walk whatever lengths to prevent such scandals from happening again. It is my prayer that you would join me in this journey.

I thank you for taking the time to consider this letter and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Until then, I remain

Most Respectfully Yours,

James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

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