Overnight jail stay gives Kane County sheriff look at conditions

Chronicle Media

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain in an image taken from a video he made while overnight in a cell. (Kane County Sheriff photo)

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain recently took a hands-on approach to examining living conditions at the county jail.

He oversaw a thorough inspection of part of the Kane County Adult Justice Center late last month and then slept overnight at the facility.

“(The ) comfort level was fine considering it’s a jail,” Hain said. “A little cold in the cell, but the gentlemen that I displaced for the evening said that two blankets does the trick.”

Hain, who stayed in Cell A17,  said he would address the food quality.

“Lunch and dinner weren’t bad,” he said. “But breakfast and the food served to our officers needs to come up a few notches. Minimum monthly quality control checks like this will be the standard.”

Hain also joked that he needs to get better at chess.

“I lost to another guy in the cell block before lock down,” he said.

Hain’s jail stay came after a jail shakedown — a response to recent cases of inmate behavioral issues and assaults on jail officers.

According a Sheriff’s Office news release, Hain coordinated a operation with the Sheriff’s Office Corrections Response Team and Kane County SWAT team for a cell block “shakedown” in two of the nine jail pods.

Two housing units had been experiencing problems with disciplinary rule violations, including instances of inmates attempting to make “hooch” — a process of mixing juice with fermenting fruit — and a Dec. 30 assault of an officer in one of the housing units.

The operation took place early on Dec. 31 with the assistance of officers from the Huntley, South Elgin, St Charles, Geneva, Batavia, and North Aurora police departments who are participating members of the Kane County SWAT Team.

The two-hour operation consisted of removing inmates from each cell in the housing unit, searching the cell, replacing basic linens, and a count of personal items.

The inmates were then returned to their cell if no contraband was located.

In all, several bottles of “hooch” were seized and some graffiti was discovered in several cells, the Sheriff’s Office said. Six inmates were moved to disciplinary status and were denied privileges for several days.

According to the news release, cooperative inmates were out of their cells for a short talk. Hain told inmates that enhanced programs will be coming to the jail within the next three months with the intention of directing everyone in the facility down a successful path in life when they re-entered the community.

Hain called the shakedown operation “ground zero” toward better behavior in the facility and an opportunity for the inmates and staff to build strong, cooperative relationships.

“(The New Year’s Eve) operation was a great success in that no officers or inmates were injured, some minor contraband was removed, and supportive direction was given for our inmate population,” Hain said.

Charges are pending against the inmate who assaulted the officer the night before.