Serial stowaway Marilyn Hartman being held at Cook County Jail

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - She is known nationwide as "The Serial Stowaway."

Marilyn Hartman has been caught sneaking onto planes in Florida, California, Arizona and again last week, here in Chicago. As FOX 32’s Larry Yellen reports, Sheriff Tom Dart says Hartman’s mental illness represents a continuing problem.

Hartman is once again in the Cook County Jail, thanks to judge's order two days ago. The 64-year-old Hartman was arrested in Chicago for the sixth time in the last 10 months, trying to board a plane at O’Hare without a ticket. Over the last year, she's spent about 220 days at the Cook County Jail.

“After four stays at our place, since April of last year, I would suggest that we clearly are able to say that we need to have something different going on here. We can't continue to do these same things,” Dart said.

Sheriff Dart says Hartman is just one of the thousands of inmates at Cook County Jail suffering from some sort of severe mental illness. The jail currently has 8100 inmates, and the sheriff estimates that about one of every three is mentally ill. Those inmates, he says, require more monitoring and care which is putting a strain on the limited resources at the jail. He's hoping Hartman's current stay will be a short one.

“We don’t need to sit and wait for the criminal proceedings to move one way or the other, we can just say, let’s do this now, and go ahead with it,” Dart said.

Dart says he’s considering asking a judge for a civil commitment order, sending Hartman to a hospital like-setting which she'd be prevented from leaving for a period of time. Jails, he says, were never meant to house the mentally ill, especially those that don't pose a threat to anyone.

“She's not trying to hurt anyone. So let’s try and keep that in mind at all times and then, how can we help her?” Dart said.

Hartman's attorney seems to agree with Sheriff Dart. She told reporters this week that the jail is not an appropriate place for people with mental health issues. The stowaway case is back in court next Thursday.

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