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Crime & Courts

McHenry County Sheriff's Office investigating security breach at jail

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Sheriff's Office is investigating a security lapse at the jail that allowed a male inmate to slide past security officers into to the women's unit to have sex with his girlfriend ­ also an inmate.

The male inmate sneaked through an unlocked access door between the two units.

About 6 p.m. Dec. 21, after making evening rounds, a correctional officer walked through the door, but failed to ensure that it was locked, the Sheriff's Office said. A guard tasked with watching a monitor also didn't see the male inmate sneak over for the "rendezvous."

Neither inmates were identified by the Sheriff's Office, citing the ongoing investigation.

The male has been in segregated custody since, and the correctional officers are facing possible disciplinary measures as a result. No one has been criminally charged.

The door should not have been used but for emergencies, Sheriff Keith Nygren said. In order for the door to lock, it had to be slammed or rechecked to ensure it was secured. The officer did not do so.

However, the door did lock after the male inmate already sneaked through the door. He was locked in the women's side for "about an hour" before another female inmate reported it to jail staff.

The Sheriff's Office is modifying procedures "to make it impossible to ever happen again," Undersheriff Andy Zinke said.

For starters, the access door no longer will be used. All correctional officers were required to attend mandatory security training.

"It was a mistake," Nygren said. "You learn from it, you create policies to keep it from happening again."

Note to readers: The original story required a correction. The incident happened on Dec. 21. The Northwest Herald regrets the error.

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