Illinois Times (10/16/14)
Jeff Regan, Democratic candidate for sheriff, favors body cameras and emergency medical technician training for guards. Wes Barr, the Republican candidate, did not respond to interview requests
Jeff Regan, Democratic candidate for sheriff, favors body cameras and emergency medical technician training for guards. Wes Barr, the Republican candidate, did not respond to interview requests. Sheriff’s officials still insist that jailers did nothing wrong. But that doesn’t mean changes haven’t been made in hopes of preventing future lawsuits.
The sheriff’s office has increased the number of surveillance cameras in the jail from 125 when Carlock died to 153 today, and all of the cameras record regardless of whether someone presses a button, says undersheriff Jack Campbell. Today, any use of force captured by a camera would be saved, Campbell says. Emails that were once automatically deleted after six months are now retained for years as a matter of course, he said.
“We’re doing it to exonerate ourselves,” Campbell said. “I think the biggest thing we learned from this was, something that we deleted could be interpreted as a smoking gun. Retain them all, and we don’t have to go through this.”
An internal affairs investigator handled the Carlock death investigation, but detectives now are assigned to investigate all jail deaths, Campbell said. Springfield police will investigate any death involving the use of force, he added.
“We’re going to involve detectives in any kind of death in the jail,” Campbell said. “A detective has a different mindset than someone doing an internal affairs investigation.”
The county has also beefed up medical care in the jail, Campbell says. At the time of Carlock’s death, mental health care was provided for eight hours per week in the jail; it’s now available 24 hours a week. The jail contracts with different physicians, and nurses are no longer county employees, which Campbell says should reduce the county’s liability in case of lawsuits alleging poor health care. Since Carlock died, there has been a significant increase in the number of inmates who are taken out of the jail to receive care at hospitals, from 70 trips in 2007 to 133 last year. Campbell could not explain the trend.
Wes Barr, the Republican candidate for sheriff, did not respond to interview requests, but Jeff Regan, the Democratic candidate, suggested that guards be trained as emergency medical technicians. He also said guards should wear body cameras.
Campbell points out that there is a fire station less than a block from the jail and says guards already have enough to do without having to take the time to undergo EMT training, which would cost money. He said that he favors body cameras for guards, but cautions that the county needs to figure out how to pay for them and use them in ways that won’t raise privacy concerns.
“We’re not afraid of it, but we need to know more about it,” Campbell said.
But getting sued remains part of the job. Since Andreatta-Carlock sued, at least 25 lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs who allege wrongdoing at the jail, most recently in August, when Chicago attorney James Murphy-Aguilu filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of Lance S. Jones, who died of a heart attack in the jail last year. In the lawsuit, Murphy-Aguilu says that Jones died shortly after a physician at St. John’s Hospital sent him back to jail with antacids after he had complained of chest pains.
“The county can say all they want that they can throw (liability) back on doctors,” Murphy-Aguilu says. “At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are liable. … The sheriff is in charge of the jail.”
Contact Bruce Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.