Burglary suspect who has COVID-19 is on home detention, instead of in DuPage jail

  • Sheriff James Mendrick

    Sheriff James Mendrick

 
 
Updated 5/21/2020 10:47 AM
An earlier version contained incorrect information, supplied to the Daily Herald, about the detainee being housed in a quarantine unit at the Cook County jail.

A Chicago man who tested positive for COVID-19 after spending three months in the Cook County jail, is recuperating at home, rather than being placed in the DuPage County jail on another case.

A DuPage judge agreed with Sheriff James Mendrick, prosecutors and the DuPage County Health Department that the benefits of keeping the jail COVID-19 free outweighed the risk of letting a man charged with a nonviolent property crime await trial at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The sheriff's office announced the measure Sunday to detainees and workers, and in a news release,

"I did not want people to be afraid," Mendrick said.

The 21-year-old man, who was not named in the release, was charged Jan. 24 with burglarizing a house and car in Naperville. Before he could be arrested on that charge, he was arrested in Cook County on a Feb. 7 burglary charge. He was taken to Cook County jail and bail was set at $100,000.

In late April, Cook authorities told Naperville police they had the man in custody. Naperville police notified DuPage prosecutors, who arranged an April 28 bond hearing.

The hearing took place by video while the man remained at the Cook jail. Associate Judge Kavita Athanikar set cash bail at $150,000 and ordered the DuPage jail to receive the man.

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But on April 27, a Cook County judge changed the man's Cook bail to a personal-recognizance bond, with electronic home monitoring.

The Cook sheriff could not put the man on home monitoring, however, because of the outstanding DuPage warrant, the sheriff's spokesman, Matthew Walberg, said. On May 12, the Cook judge removed the EHM condition.

Cook authorities then notified Mendrick and Naperville the man was ready for transfer.

Two DuPage deputies, wearing protective gear, picked the man up May 14. The detainee also wore protective gear.

The man was tested, then placed in an isolation cell, separate from the main jail. Mendrick said he has been doing that for any detainees coming from other jails, prisons or group-living facilities.

Test results came back positive the morning of May 16 and Mendrick then called the health department. "Every minute counts," he said, in dealing with the virus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

They discussed the matter with prosecutors. The hearing was held late Saturday afternoon. .

Athanikar agreed to convert the cash bond to a recognizance bond, and to have the man wear a GPS monitor. The health department sent the man home by ambulance, to avoid having him use public transportation.

The deputies were placed on 14-day quarantine.

The man did not show any symptoms of COVID-19 while at the jails.

Mendrick praised Cook County's handling of the matter.

"Our relationship with Cook County is very excellent," he said. He acknowledged that Cook faces a much bigger problem with COVID-19 because it typically has more than 5,000 inmates instead of the 500 or so housed in DuPage.

He sees last week's event as evidence the steps he has taken, beginning in January, are working. Mendrick said the jail has no COVID-19 cases.

Measures have included having people clean the bottoms of their shoes with ammonia and prohibiting employees from working second jobs, to reduce the chance of bringing the virus in. The air flow in the isolation cells was changed, to keep air from those cells from getting into the rest of the jail.

"If you are prepared for these things, you can handle this," Mendrick said.

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