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Who knew some Chicagoans would go so far as to stage adult entertainment for the enjoyment of inmates in the Metropolitan Correctional Center?

Bawdy Rooftop Performances Entertain Inmates in Chicago Prison

Credit: Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago has earned its reputation as a city that knows how to show conventioneers, tourists, and other visitors a good time – but who knew some Chicagoans would go so far as to stage adult entertainment for the enjoyment of inmates in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the 27-story prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons?

But that’s apparently what’s been happening on the roof of a self-service parking garage across the street from the prison. Chicago newspapers printed accounts of the X-rated cavorting on the garage rooftop, which has included performances by topless or nude dancers, and other displays the family papers have had difficulty describing. MCC inmates able to see the hijinks from their place of residence sometimes flash cellblock lights on and off to express their appreciation. Criminal lawyers with nearby offices also confirm these displays are not isolated or infrequent occurrences.

A BOP spokesperson, asked about the racy performances, says the agency is aware of the goings-on, and has notified the garage management about them, but adds the BOP “has no authority to remove people” from the privately-owned property. The garage operators, for their part deny any knowledge or involvement with the performances. The Chicago newspapers state there’s no record of anyone having been arrested in connection with the rooftop shows.

And they’re apparently not a new phenomenon. Some sources say the impromptu performances have been going on for years. On some occasions, rather than a striptease routine, the rooftop is the site of gatherings of inmates’ family members, who keep all clothing intact as they take pictures and wave toward the MCC.

One explanation for the rooftop shows is that well-heeled inmates are underwriting the performances as a way to show off their status to other inmates. This might explain why women gyrating on the garage rooftop sometimes display wads of currency. One prominent example of this is gang leader Thaddeus Jimenez, known as T.J., the leader of the Simon City Royals. He spent time in the MCC and claims some of the rooftop shows were put on for his benefit. Jimenez denies sponsoring the events, but says one stripper occasionally holds a sign reading “Free T.J.” and explains this is an expression of love.

If he had wanted to bankroll the shows, he could easily have done so. Jiminez won a near-record $25 million wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the city in 2012. Arrested on a murder charge at age 13, he was freed after 16 years in jail after a witness recanted testimony that Jimenez was the killer. He’s currently serving nine years in prison on a 2015 federal gun charge linked to shooting a gang rival in both legs. A fellow gang member videotaped the assault while riding with Jimenez in a $90,000 Mercedes convertible. The duo—and the video camera—were captured when Jimenez crashed the car as he was trying to escape the crime scene. But even though Jimenez has been transferred out of the MCC, the rooftop shows show no sign of abating anytime soon.

Christopher Zoukis is the author of Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons, College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Co., 2014) and Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016). He can be found online at ChristopherZoukis.com and PrisonerResource.com.

About Christopher Zoukis

Christopher Zoukis, a writer currently incarcerated at FCC Petersburg (Medium), is an impassioned and active prison education advocate, a legal commentator, and a prolific writer of books, book reviews, and prison law articles. While living in federal prison at various security levels, retaliations for his activism have earned him long stretches in solitary, or “the hole.”

While in prison, he has earned numerous academic, legal, and ministerial credentials. Christopher is very knowledgeable about prison-related legal issues, prison policy, federal regulations, and case law. He is the author of Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014) and thePrison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016).

The Federal Prison Handbook is an IndieReader Discovery Awards winner.

A regularly featured contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Prison Legal News, the nation’s most prominent prison law publication, Christopher has enjoyed significant media exposure through appearances with the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Vice.com, Salon.com, In These Times, The Jeff McArthur Show, The Simi Sara Show,TheCommentary.ca, 88.9 WERS’ award-winning “You Are Here” radio segment, and The Examiner.

Other articles and book reviews appeared in The New York Journal of Books, the Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, Blog Critics, Midwest Book Review, Basil and Spice, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, AND Magazine, Truth-Out.org, Rain Taxi, and the Education Behind Bars Newsletter, with content syndicated by the Associated Press, Google News, and Yahoo News.

He established three websites: PrisonEducation.com, PrisonerResource.com, and ChristopherZoukis.com, and was a former editor of the Education Behind Bars Newsletter. In 2011, his fiction won two PEN American Center Prison Writing Awards for a screenplay and a short story. He taught a popular course on writing and publishing to over 100 fellow prisoners.

Today Christopher is successfully working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Business/Law) from Adams State University. Following his 2016 graduation, he plans on attending Adams State University’s MBA program. He regularly advises fellow prisoners and prison consultants about legal issues and federal regulations governing the Federal Bureau of Prisons operations. Upon release he plans to attend law school and become a federal criminal defense attorney.

Christopher will not allow incarceration to waste his years or halt the progress of his life. He began his prison terms as a confused kid who made poor decisions but is today determined to create a better life. “We can’t let the past define us,” he says. “We have to do something today to make tomorrow what we want it to be.”

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