Lamont Cathey has already been taken to hospital 24 times in just 16 months. Since his arrest scores of foreign objects, including screws, needles, thumbtacks, strips of leather and medical devices were found in his stomach. Cathey’s swallowing obession has so far cost the jail more than $1 million for his treatment.
The 18-year-old was arrested a year ago for allegedly breaking into store and stealing money, and as no one has paid his $5,000 bail, he had to stay in the prison. Cara Smith, executive director of Cook Country jail, said:
“He’s literally eating the jail. This case to me is a perfect example of the failure of the criminal justice system… It’s been a crushingly sad and very frustrating case.”
Cathey’s family also blame the prison system for developing the teenager’s new eating habit, adding that he urgently needs long-term psychiatric treatment. A month ago a man had swallowed 140 coins, 150 nails and a handful of nuts, bolts, batteries, screws, and magnets for three years after he fell into a depression, and eating metal objects brought him comfort.