Monday, March 30, 2009

Open the door & let 'em in

It couldn't be, could it?

Is it possible that 81 ICE detainees were moved out of the McHenry County Jail over the week-end, so their noses couldn't be counted when ICE was going to pay a visit today?

Well, that's the rumor. And some will know whether it's true or not.

How could you possibly adjust records to pull a total headcount down by 81? And what if they come right back?

Wouldn't it be interesting to compare the timing of headcount changes over the past few days between the McHenry County Jail and the Kane County Jail? would reveal an interesting and temporary change in numbers.

It is my understanding that prisoners/inmates are taken into the jail through a driveway off the parking lot at the front of the building. The driveway leads back to a gate that slides open and closed. By driving a patrol car or other vehicle (let's say, a van or a bus) into the secure area behind the gate, the opportunity for an escape or break-out is drastically reduced.

When delivering a prisoner to the jail, the driver rolls up the driveway, stops at the gate, waits for it to be opened, and then drives through and pulls around in a left U-turn to enter an enclosed area not visible to the street or parking lot in front of the jail. Not bad planning.

Between about 5:19PM and 5:50PM three white, unmarked, passenger vans arrived at the jail and entered the drop-off area through the sliding gate.

Then, at 6:03PM the McHenry County Sheriff's Department "school" bus No. 715 arrived at the Jail. The driver approached from Russel Court and stopped temporarily along the side of the courthouse near the jail driveway. A deputy stepped off the bus and watched the bus as its driver backed into the driveway and positioned the bus near the front of the building. And there the bus sat, with the headlights on and presumably with the engine running. The deputy on foot appeared to speak through an intercom unit, and then he walked back and forth on the front of the building.

And then, about 7:34PM the man-door next to the overhead door opened, and the "passengers" on the bus began exiting the bus and entering the jail building through the solid front door near the driveway. Several, but not all, had on orange jumpsuits. They were kept at even intervals and seemed to be walking with difficulty. I was not close enough to see for sure, but I would guess that each wore leg irons.

What would explain such a breach in security?

First of all, why were they kept on the stopped bus from 6:03PM-7:34PM? Is there a bathroom on a schoolbus? When did they get their dinner?

And, most importantly, why were they admitted to the jail building through a front door just a short walking distance from the bus?

I was glad I didn't see a scene straight from Prison Break. I could imagine a scenario where an armed gang showed up, took control of the front of the jail, rescued certain inmates, shot up the rest and fled. And I don't even watch TV.

As local folks know, the McHenry County Jail is directly across the street from three schools. Tonight the parking lot at one of the schools was full. Was the public placed at some risk by holding a busload of prisoners at the front of the jail building for 90 minutes with only one deputy on foot?

At one point some people on foot approached him, and he directed them to the jail entrance farther north. OK, so they were probably there to visit an inmate or perhaps to bail someone out. But what if they had had another purpose, when they approached so closely to him? How easy it would have been to disarm him and seize the scene.

Why did the jail personnel hold the prisoners on the bus until right at dark (7:34PM)? Hmmm, sunset was at 7:18PM. It was getting pretty dark at 7:30PM. Did that have something to do with it?

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