By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch presented the results of an internal investigation at the Justice Center following the loss of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees.
The Justice Center’s nursing supervisor was terminated as the result of an internal investigation, Mulch reported.
He said an investigation began immediately after ICE detainees were removed from the county’s jail due to staffing levels and improper completion of paperwork that accompanies detainees on their return trip to Chicago.
The internal investigation uncovered evidence that employees in the Justice Center’s medical division had not completed paperwork properly, with problems occurring for the past several months, Mulch’s report states. He said the nursing supervisor was negligent in ensuring the paperwork was being completed properly, that the department had difficulties keeping part-time nurses adequately staffed, and that the doctor on retainer at the time did not always fulfill an ICE requirement of making three sick calls per week.
Mulch said not all of the issues were being reported to command staff outside of the nursing supervisor. The concern of ICE wasn’t the severity of the infractions, Mulch explained, but the repeated problems with paperwork.
“I wasn’t being briefed about how important it was,” he said. “We had check marks against us, and it wasn’t anything so major that they would stop doing business with us, but we had three strikes. The same offenses kept occurring.”
County Board Chairman Robert White said the county’s focus and the sheriff’s focus at the time was on correctional staff and increasing their numbers, rather than nursing staff.
“This was a pervasive issue that we were not aware of until the investigation, and then we found out,” he said, adding that medical staffing would have been addressed if the sheriff and the board had been aware of the problems.
Mulch said the jail has hired another doctor in the meantime and is operating according to Illinois Department of Corrections standards.
He said in the future, if the county board decides to reacquire ICE detainees, a daily audit will be completed with the ICE coordinator and the vendor supervisor to accommodate the needs of the governmental agency. Furthermore, if funds are not budgeted for ICE detainees, he said in his report, no medical staff change will be necessary.
JCSO Capt. Randy Pollard also made a presentation concerning what he called the ICE Project and the jail’s options for housing standards.
He recommended that the jail continue to follow the 2000 National Detention Standards until ICE moves to re-negotiate the Justice Center’s daily rate for housing detainees.
He said the jail will eventually be required to operate under 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards, but recommended that the facility not upgrade until it is required to do so in order to save county money.
“It doesn’t speed up the negotiations,” he said. “There will be a time when we will be required to be compliant. We won’t be audited until the new per diem is signed. We recommend the jail operates under the 2000 NDS until ICE requests we re-negotiate.”
He said by being compliant with the 2000 standards, the groundwork is laid for the 2008 standards.
Some of the key costs he listed as requirements of the 2008 standards for the jail would be health care upgrades, moving the health care offices within sight and sound of detainees, a security compliance superintendent, a training coordinator/HR specialist, and the possible addition of four correctional officers.