Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
ROCK ISLAND COUNTY JAIL— JULY 10, 1911.
O. L. BRUNER, Sheriff.
The Rock Island county jail has not been fundamentally improved since the last report was made. It is so dark that the gas must be lighted throughout the day. At the time of inspection, the atmosphere of the main jail was exceedingly foul, as there were fifty men crowded into a space whose air capacity would be more than exhausted for a third of that number. No fault can be found with the jail management.
As there are but thirteen cells and but two men can be placed in one cell, about half the men sleep on mattresses on the corridor floors.
Each cell is burned out, scrubbed, and white-washed every week. Still the men complain of bed bugs, for the old walls are so thoroughly filled, that they can not fight them successfully.
Every man has clean sheets and pillow slips once a week; he has also his own separate towel.
There is but one bath tub; the prisoners will not allow a man with infectious disease — if they know he has it — to use the tub.
The juvenile department is on the second floor, above the men's department.
There are but two cells, so most of the eight minors present sleep
on the floor. Bed bugs and rats abound in this department. The air is bad.
It Is scarcely to be hoped that the young men of seventeen, nineteen and twenty, confined here, will learn the lessons of good citizenship in this dungeon.
If, as the sheriff suggests, the walls and floor were removed, the additional space would afford some relief to the men below. Minors could be
placed in a large room, which is at present used as a store room, were an iron cage provided.
Women have a comparatively light and well aired department. There is no provision for separating criminal women from girls. The sheriff keeps
girls outside the cage, but still they can communicate with the women.
There are wooden floors in the women's department; wood should never be used in a place where people are deprived of their liberty, because of the danger from fire.
The deputy's wife acts as matron for the women.
All clothes are fumigated as soon as a person is admitted to the Jail.
The prisoners have a Kangaroo court; from the revenue, they take two daily papers and buy their tobacco and shaving soap.
For breakfast and supper, prisoners get bread, syrup and coffee; for dinner they get meat, potatoes, soup, and bread. Only thirty cents a day is allowed for feeding each prisoner.
There is no place for insane. It is criminal to detain an insane man in this crowded, ill-ventilated jail, but no other place is provided.
The jail is clean, drainage and sewage are in good shape.
Sixty men and boys, seven women, were in jail at the time of inspection.
Thirty-four of the number were serving sentences for disorderly conduct; three for vagrancy; nineteen were awaiting trial for periods of two, three, and four months.
At present, most of the men are unoccupied, although, there is considerable agitation throughout the county for a workhouse, or for regular employment of prisoners on the streets.
Judge Robert Olmsted has cooperated with the supervisors in sentencing men who come under his jurisdiction for a definite number of days to such labor as the board may provide.
In this way, a number of men are employed about the jail and court house. Judge Olmsted is to be commended for having interested himself in providing a method by which men convicted of
misdemeanors may serve definite sentences.
Miss. Dina Ramser, Address Rock Island, No fixed Salary
Source: Reports of Inspections of County Jails, Visited During 1911, SECOND ANNUAL REPORT OF THE State Charities Commission, By Illinois State Charities Commission, December 31, 1911
Transcribed by Candi Horton