Illinois County Jails are to adhere to the Illinois County Jail Standards Act when it comes to operations of the jail. Some questions have been raised recently about the inmates in the Sangamon County Jail and their rights. Like inmates being underfed (How Many Calories Do You Eat A Day? 1800?) to Inmates Sleeping on The Floor (Inmates Sleeping On The Floor At The Sangamon County Jail!?).
Another very serious accusation has been brought forward on the Sangamon County Jail in regards to how it treats its inmates.
The Illinois County Jail Act Requires ALL inmates to take an incoming shower before being housed in the facility. The Jail and Detention Standards of the Illinois Department of Corrections is in charge of inspections and oversight of the county jails in the State of Illinois. Yearly this unit inspects each jail and it is a question on the inspection “Are All Inmates Given An Admission Shower?”.
We reached out to the Sangamon County Jail to get their written policy on the shower procedure. They provided us a with a Memo from January of 2005 (Click Here To Read The Memo).
The memo states “No Inmate should be housed in any cell without first receiving a shower”. It also stated before inmates are moved from the booking area to General Housing another shower must be taken.
We spoke to over 30 inmates who have been in the Sangamon County Jail over the last 5 years at some point or another, even one who was recently in the jail in the last 30 days. Every last one of them said a shower was not offered to them at any point. Some state they stayed in the booking area of the jail upwards of 5 days with no shower until they made it to general housing upstairs. One former inmate stated “It was the laugh when on the new people would come upstairs from booking, they would almost all immediately go to the shower since they had been denied them for days usually downstairs.”
The memo also stated that all mattress must be disinfected and cleaned before reuse. One of the inmates we spoke to was a “Trustee” or inmate worker for the Jail. He stated that in his time as a trustee (about 2 months) he never once saw a mattress cleaned. He stated they would take the matts out of the cells and place near the property room and move them back out as needed. He stated to us several inmates during his time complained of getting rashes and bites from the mattresses.
The memo also stated that during cell cleaning in the General Housing that the mop buckets are changed out and that three buckets of disinfectant are given to each unit. All the inmates we spoke to disputed this as well, several stating along the lines of the unit gets 1 mop bucket and 1 pink disinfectant pail and toilet brush for upwards of 48 inmates and that you just hoped you got it first or you might as well not even use it. When asked if what happened if they asked for fresh cleaning materials most of them laughed at us.
Keeping a clean and sanitary Jail is necessary for many reasons. On the taxpayer side its alarming as one inmate in another state sued a county jail for depriving him of a required shower, he eventually was awarded $20,000 in damages.
We reached out the Sheriff Wes Barr for comment on this story and have yet to receive a response back.
We also reached out the Illinois Department of Corrections to ask how they verify if procedures are actually done in the jails, and they declined to comment.