Lake County Jail receives high marks on inspection

The Illinois Department of Corrections recently completed its annual inspection of the Lake County Jail, giving the facility one of its best results to date, the sheriff’s office said.

According to the report, the jail received only one non-compliance mark, which was related to food preparation. The department of corrections then acknowledged six improvements from last year.

At the time of the inspection, the jail population was 610 inmates with 221 full-time employees assigned to the facility.

“It’s been one of the best ones we’ve had in a long time,” said Dave Wathon, the county’s chief of corrections.

Wathon highlighted the fact there were no failing check marks, which the jail has had in the past.

“But it’s usually something that can be addressed right away,” he said.

The one non-compliance issue had to do with food carts that were going from the kitchen to the various pods in the jail. The inspector noticed that the food trays did not have the required coverings, according to the report.

Undersheriff Ray Rose said the food in question was being transferred from the kitchen to the carts. The food was just not covered yet, he said, noting that is when the inspector walked past.

“We were aware of the requirement, it’s covered for security as well,” he said.

The jail serves 2,200 meals a day.

The improvements from the last inspection included: Five new wheel chairs for detainee transport, two new restraint chairs, new food vendor Aramark and new health care provider Wexford for mental health services. Additional improvements noted that all security staff now carries pepper spray and every shift conducts updated electronic security checks.

“We did what we said we were going to do and it’s been validated by a set of outside eyes,” Rose said. “It speaks volumes of where the jail is headed.”

The jail has had problems in the past, including two high-profile cases. An inmate who was injured and dragged through the jail later died in custody. A number of correctional officers were fired or disciplined as a result. Another involved a woman who went on a hunger strike and died. That case was part of the motivation to bring in a new mental health contractor.

Sheriff Mark Curran also recently announced that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care accredited the Lake County Jail. The commission reviews jails for 35 essential standards and 33 are applicable to the Lake County Jail and the health care it provides. All of the essential standards must be met in order to receive accreditation.

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