Board Candidates Answer Whether McHenry County Should Keep ICE Detention Center

One of the questions at the October 11th McHenry County League of Women Voters Candidates’ Night was whether candidates supported the used of the Jail as an ICE detention center.

Carlos Acosta

First to answer was Democrat Carlos Acosta.

He said it had been “controversial for the last twenty years.”

Continuing, Acosta said, “I don’t know enough about it to know whether to support or not.

“If treated respectfully I’d like to have it remain here.”

He told of visiting detention centers where those behind bars were not treated well.

Larry Smith

Larry Smith answered, “Yes.”

He pointed out that the operation brought in $9 million a year to the County coffers.

Larry Spaeth

Larry Spaeth explained that he was “not really comfortable” enforcing the Federal government’s policies.

He said he would “look at the financial benefits first,” that he has “some questions about it.”

John Jung

John Jung explained that 10-11 years ago the “Federal government gave

funds to help build the jail.”

In summary, “I support the contract.”

Michael Rein

Michael Rein also favored continuation of the County operation.

“It gives us extra funds that go in the the General Fund.

“I never heard of anyone being mistreated in our jail.”


Board Candidates Answer Whether McHenry County Should Keep ICE Detention Center — 14 Comments

  1. Your occasional reminder, that it’s the sacred duty of every Democrat f’wit, to embellish social injustice, everywhere it doesn’t exist.

  2. “I don’t know enough about it to know whether to support or not.”

    Is this an example of: It is legal for a politician to lie?

  3. “Larry Spaeth explained that he was “not really comfortable” enforcing the Federal government’s policies.”

    This guy, Larry, does not have an understanding of why local and state government SHOULD cooperate with the Federal government.

  4. The tragic death of the young lady named above had little to do with her treatment at the facility.

    Someone who is determined to take their own life will succeed eventually.

    There are other sad factors at play and those close to her know what those are.

    It’s very sad and that is all I will say.

  5. Let’s share the entire press release, rather than forcing people to go to its web site.

    Settlement in Death of Hassiba Belbachir
    for immediate release
    April 4, 2014


    On April 3, 2014, People’s Law Office attorneys obtained a seven-figure settlement for the family of Hassiba Belbachir, a vibrant 27 year old Algerian Muslim woman who died on March 17, 2005, abandoned and alone on the cold floor of a cell in immigration detention at McHenry County Jail.

    A social worker at the jail who saw Hassiba on March 14, three days before she died, noted that she was suicidal; had a “major depressive disorder;” sobbed throughout the interview; was very depressed; experienced feelings of agitation, anger, anxiety, depression, hopelessness and helplessness; and believed she was dying, telling the social worker, “death is dripping slowly, drop by drop . . . I’d rather die than live like this.” The social worker deliberately ignored Hassiba’s desperate pleas for help, had no further contact with her, and didn’t bother to tell corrections officers that Hassiba was suicidal. On March 17, Hassiba wrapped her socks around her neck and took her own life.

    In ruling that the social worker must stand trial for violating Hassiba’s civil rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals stated:

    She was not a criminal and was no danger to any person in the jail, whether staff member, detainee, or visitor. She was an obvious suicide risk who should have been hospitalized or at least placed on suicide watch, during which a guard would have glanced into her cell every 10 minutes. […]

    The defendants could have placed Belbachir in a mental hospital or at least on suicide watch. These were simple and obvious precautions against a risk of suicide. A severely depressed person who has hallucinations, acute anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and who cries continually, talks incessantly of death, and is diagnosed as suicidal, is in obvious danger, and if the danger (known to a defendant) can be averted at slight cost, the failure to try to avert it is willful.

    Belbachir v. County of McHenry, 726 F.3d 975 (7th Cir. 2013). [Audio of the June 6, 2013 oral argument is available at:

    Hassiba is survived by her six older siblings, who describe her as having a personality full of joy, that she was like a candle who could light up an entire room. Her brother Mohammed, a veterinarian in France, compared the effect of her death on the family with the destruction of the earth from a meteorite.

    It is important to place Ms. Belbachir’s tragic and untimely death in the context of the expansion of immigration detention which routinely violates the human and civil rights of detainees, while it is seen as a profitable business by jail administrators. Her death in 2005 took place on the eve of the opening of a large unit to house ICE detainees in McHenry County, funded with more than $6 million in federal tax dollars. By 2009, by the sheriff’s own admission, renting jail cells to ICE netted the county some $55 million.

    Between 2003 and 2013, at least 141 ICE detainees died in custody. While it is impossible to determine the number who took their own lives — Hassiba’s death is listed as an asphyxia — she is clearly one of at least 17 similar deaths in that ten year period.

    Attorney Janine Hoft said, “This substantial settlement honors the memory of Hassiba Belbachir and reinforces the necessity to treat all persons in custody with dignity, respect and adequate care. Detainees caught up in our confusing, arbitrary and broken immigration system deserve humane treatment. No one else should die of desperation in our prisons, jails or immigration detention centers.”

    Rachid Belbachir, her cousin, active in Chicago’s Muslim community, who administers her estate, said, “as a member of the family and Chicago’s Muslim community, I am satisfied that justice for Hassiba is at long last achieved. We hope and pray that the social worker, those who employed her, and those who work at the jail have learned a lesson such that no other immigration detainee will ever have to suffer from having his or her serious needs ignored, and such that no other family will ever have to suffer the loss of a loved one in immigration custody.”

  6. Decent answers from all, except Carlos”Can’t Decide”Acosta.

  7. Saying “I don’t know” is actually rather refreshing.

    However, to note that a situation has been around for 20+ years and you still don’t have enough information to make a decision doesn’t speak well.

    I think we all agree that the prison should be well run.

    Therefore the decision turns on money.

    It is, in fact, practically a textbook assignment in marginal cost analysis.

    As there do not appear to be any alternative revenue generating uses for the jail, the only question is how much revenue does the jail generate, net of marginal expenses, for the ICE prisoners?

    Note this is NOT a question of gross revenue, but of net revenue.

    If the answer to the question is positive, then it makes sense to continue.

    If the answer to the question is negative, then stop taking ICE prisoners.

  8. With the 70 or so extra officers needed for the ICE unit, it’s pretty much a wash but with a much greater liability for the county.

    The real benefit was Nygren got his third floor of the jail completed at a great discount.

    It was the belief at that time that the extra space would be needed due to the county’s growth.

  9. All about the money, not one person spoke of life liberty or happiness, sad sad sad

  10. I love politics.

    Four years ago, Andy Zinke was crucified for even considering re-upping the contract.

    Now, Republicans are for it – un-bee-lee-va-bull

  11. Anyone ask Jacko where he stands on the issue?

    Think he might be trying to avoid it?

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