Noel Brinkerhoff
All Gov

January 18, 2012

Times are so tough in Illinois that the state and its largest city are having a difficult time burying its poor.

In Chicago, bodies are stacking up in the city morgue because the medical examiner’s office hasn’t paid for the burial boxes used for the dead who were indigent.

At the office of the Cook County Medical Examiner, the morgue’s cooler, built to hold 300 bodies, currently has 500, including a hundred babies. All of the decomposing corpses are too much for the room’s ventilation system.

“There are so many bodies in there now, they can’t keep it cool enough. The stench is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think it’s sacrilegious.”

Chief Medical Examiner Nancy L. Jones acknowledged the backlog, but claimed that there were no more than 300 unburied bodies. In September Jones courted controversy when it was revealed that bodies of the indigent would be donated to science unless family members collected them within 60 days.

The rest of the state is short on cash to cover the cost of burying those on welfare. State lawmakers slashed funding for such work, cutting what was a $13 million budget down to $1.9 million. The state pays for the burial of an estimated 12,000 poor people each year.

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