Just 2 months old, new Kane jail is full

Just 2 months old, new Kane jail is full

There are 3 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Nov 13, 2008, titled Just 2 months old, new Kane jail is full. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

Just two months after it opened, the Kane County Jail already is full, and the county is spending thousands of dollars a day to house inmates in nearby facilities.

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Batavia, IL

#1 Nov 13, 2008
Now we read that the jail that Kane County taxpayers spent money on is overcrowded? How much did the jails in the other counties cost and how many beds do they have? Were the taxpayers in Kane County shortchanged due to poor planning? Did they pass a referendum to build this jail or did they move forward without one? How many political contributions in the last eight years are attached to all the vendors getting construction business in the county? How many in other counties? If there are contributions who are those contributions going to?

This sounds like an interesting future story for collar county readers and taxpayers.
Not surprised

United States

#2 Nov 13, 2008
As a former jail inspector for the Illinois Department of Corrections, this does not surprise me at all. This was mentioned to the previous County Board members when plans were submitted but fell on deaf ears. All the facts in this article are right on target, especially about the McHenry County Jail. I'd just like to add that the McHenry County Jail and the Lake County Jail are perhaps two of the finest facilities in the state.

One of the things the article did not mention is the separation of pre trial detainees (unsentenced offenders awaiting trial) and sentenced offenders (that that have gone to court and been sentenced to the county jail for periods of less than 365 days. Any sentence of 1 year or more requires incarceration in the state penitentiary system). This is a state requirement of separation as dictated in Title 20, Part 701 of the Illinois Administrative Code.

One of the possible solutions here that would aid all county jails is abolishing the section of the standard which reads: "Charged offenders who are supervised under the indirect supervision option (no officer present in the pod at all times) shall be separated from convicted offenders by detention room cluster or cell block" and allowing facilities to house detainees according to their classifications taking into account their charge, gang participation, aggressiveness and prior history of violence.

Ideally, with the way the law reads now, if you were to have the room, you would need 4 detention areas to house charged offenders and convicted offenders since you would want to separate these two groups by their level of street sophistication, aggressiveness and other factors. I submit housing a person convicted of a DUI and sentenced to 6 months in the county jail with one awaiting trial for non payment of child support would not pose a security issue. The way it works now, you can house a three time looser that has been to the penitentiary each time and is awaiting trial for a triple homicide with a detainee who is an accountant and awaiting trial for non payment of child support and be in full compliance with the standards.

The standards state written guidelines for the classification of detainees be established taking into account items such as gang activity, physical size and stature, past criminal history and offense to name a few. It goes on to state these criteria shall be considered (the key word being considered versus followed).

Dormitory incarceration gives facilities more "bang for the buck" but the standards further state "dormitories housing more than 25 inmates must provide personal continuous observation by staff, not including observation by a monitoring device". This means an officer must be conducting direct supervision 24 hours a day which would mean an increase in staff. Since a typical detention room costs about $60,000 to construct and can only hold 2 detainees (and only allowed if all detention rooms are filled), a dormitory is still a cost effective means of detention IF you have a large enough population who are suitable for this type of group living.

The only other option is to hire more staff and provide direct supervision in detention clusters. This way, sentenced and unsentenced offenders can be housed in the same cluster and would only need to be separated by detention room.

There are no easy answers. Either way, it is going to cost more money.


#3 Nov 13, 2008
Not Surprised,

How much was spent on the McHenry County Jail? Do you have any comparisons on jail costs vs. number of beds?

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