Kane County sheriff, jail inmates talk reform and recidivism on new podcast
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain has added another tool to his reform efforts at the Kane County jail: a podcast on which he interviews detainees.
"A Sheriff and His Inmates" features Hain and Nathan Lanthrum of Lighthouse Recovery, which runs an addiction-treatment program at the jail, speaking with a different detainee each week.
The podcasts are available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. It had about 1,000 downloads as of Wednesday, Hain said.
The idea for the podcast came about after COVID-19 put the brakes on a new program in which Hain and a detainee would speak at an event open to the public.
It's part of Hain's efforts to reduce recidivism among those in his jail. Others include setting aside a jail pod to house detainees recovering from drug addiction, and offering vocational classes, such as barbering and forklift operator certification.
"I had a passion also for investing in our jail and in correctional reform," Hain said on the first podcast. "While we have that, sorry to say, captive audience, why not invest in them?"
For now, the people interviewed come from those who have been in the jail's recovery program for six months and shown good progress.
Last week that was Richard Swain, who has been in the jail 22 months awaiting trial on drug charges. Hain asked him about life in the jail, including what it was like in the "C" pod, a higher-security general-population pod.
Swain, 50, lived there before being admitted to the recovery pod.
"You have a lot of irrational behavior over there," Swain said. "In C pod you're not getting any better. You're just blending in. ... C pod is like prison, and that breeds prison. This (the recovery pod) breeds a more rational thinking process."
Swain said he wishes a recovery program had been available the first time he was locked up. He started using drugs around age 11, and a recovery program might have helped him avoid being imprisoned three times, he said.
Hain also asked about the relationship between law enforcement and correctional officers and community members.
"C'mon, give it to me, Rick. Don't hold back," Hain told Swain.
"You got to get more people in the (recovery) program," Swain said. "You've got to get more programs like this.
"Keep doing what you're doing and show that you really care, and I think people will appreciate that and think twice."
They then discussed some of Hain's ideas, such as having patrol officers meet with detainees in the recovery groups to hear about their lives. Or having some of the C pod detainees interviewed on the podcast.
Swain explained that avoiding jail isn't necessarily part of younger detainees' plans -- they expect to land behind bars.
"Coming to jail, this is part of the game," he told Hain.
"I just hope that people take it to heart," Hain said of the podcast. "I want that personal perspective. I want (inmates) to tell me, tell law enforcement, what we are doing wrong."
Help for survivors
Survivors of sexual violence now have an easy and nonintrusive way to track the status of their cases, and they can thank a trio of Lake County elected officials for it.
The Illinois State Police Division of Forensic Services recently introduced a sexual assault evidence tracking system that allows survivors to monitor the status of the evidence in their case, from collection at the hospital through law enforcement pickup and submission to the forensic lab and ultimately to the prosecutor's office.
The system, called CheckPoint, came about thanks in part to the recommendation of the state's Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission. Among the panel's members were state Sen. Dan McConchie, a Republican from Hawthorn Woods, state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Democrat from Grayslake, and Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim.
"Every day, survivors await justice, and now they will be able to track the progress of their kit," Bush said in an announcement of the system last week. "Though nothing can undo the pain survivors experienced, I hope this new tracking system empowers survivors to continue moving forward."
Any survivor of sexual assault who seeks a forensic medical exam at a health care facility that has implemented the CheckPoint system is able to track the progress of their evidence in the system.
Downer of a drug bust
Someone's weekend -- maybe a lot of weekends -- were ruined Sunday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at O'Hare International Airport.
Officers that day seized a shipment of 15,000 tablets misbranded as Viagra arriving from Turkey, along with varying brands of honey mixed with Sildenafil, the clinical name for a class of erectile dysfunction drugs.
The shipment was heading to a home in Michigan, federal authorities said. If the pills were real and approved by the FDA, the retail value would be more than $1 million, according to customs officials.
"Consumers do not realize the risk they are taking when using prescription drugs from other countries," said Shane Campbell, area port director for the CBP in Chicago. "These non-regulated drugs could cause health concerns or even death."
• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.