New Kane County Sheriff Makes Changes After Listening To Staff, Inmate Concerns

The sheriff will stay overnight in a jail cell at least once a month.

Bernie Tafoya
January 02, 2019 - 12:07 pm

Kane County Sheriff's Office

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The new Kane County sheriff wants to make it clear he’s listening to the concerns of both the people who work for him and those he keeps locked up in the county jail. And, on Wednesday night, he’ll be among those behind bars. 

When Ron Hain became sheriff in Kane County last month, he asked staffers at the jail what some of their major concerns were.

"One of the primary ones was that the inmates were running the facility, in their mind, and that disciplinary issues were not properly addressed," he said.  The sheriff goes on to say staffers complained inmates had far too many privileges when there were behavioral issues.

The last straw may have come Dec. 30.  He said that's when one of the corrections officers was assaulted in one of the pods. The officer was not injured, but he was insulted.

"The inmate approached him from behind and flicked him in the ear, just a high school schoolyard action, but the flick in the ear today becomes the punch and the fight tomorrow," Hain said. 

Sheriff Ron Hain looked at the number of behavioral issues and attacks on corrections officers and found increases in two sections (pods) of Kane County Jail. He ordered a security shakedown in them.

The sheriff said that, besides graffiti and pornography on the walls, illegal homemade alcohol was found.

"In all, we removed between 20-30 bottles of hooch from one of the pods which, in my opinion, is a ridiculous amount," he said. 

After the security sweep, Sheriff Hain said he sat down to talk to inmates who had not had behavioral issues. He outlined his plans for the jail, including a job training program, a tablet program in which inmates will be able to use tablets to get lessons towards a GED certificate or a CDL (truck driver's) license.  He also plans to have inmates taught how to fill out job applications and to actually fill out applications.

For their part, inmates made complaints to the sheriff about the food and temperature at night in the jail, so he plans to stay overnight in a jail cell at least once a month wearing what inmates wear and eating what they eat. 

"If I can live by it as a baseline, then they should be able to. If I find it to be disgusting and inhumane, we’ll make the appropriate changes," he said.

Wednesday night is Sheriff Hain’s first night in a cell.

The sheriff said that, "before they even leave here, they’re going to learn how to build resumes. They’re going to learn how to conduct an interview. They’re going to learn how to fill out applications and they’re actually going to physically fill out job applications to our network of employers."

But he said he explained to inmates that, in order to be successful with his programs, "we all have to work together."