Television and a gym
By Nancy Howard
and Tom Schlueter
Some called it plush, deriding it. Some called it innovative, praising it.
Whatever they called it, the design and construction of the Kane County Adult Correctional Complex became models for jails in the country.
The design has stood the test of time, according to architect Ed Duffy.
Duffy's firm, Prisco Duffy & Associates Ltd., went on from its first corrections project, the Kane jail, to do several similar facilities for the state.
It sure is different from the three-story brick building where inmates used to yell imprecations at passersby in downtown Geneva.
"The use of bars and prison-like fixtures is handled in a restrained and subtle manner to maintain the appropriate level of security without creating the cage-like character of traditional cell blocks," says a brochure, "Kane County Corrections Complex," prepared for the opening.
"The jail complex, together with the sheriff's administration building, will provide the nucleus of a long range, flexible program which will provide a comprehensive complex to respond to the present and future needs of Kane County."
"Planning," a planning officials' magazine, said in February 1975, before the jail opened: "the National Clearinghouse for Criminal Justice Planning and Architecture has called the (jail) committee's four-year effort 'a national example' of the solution to the problem of penal architecture reform."
Design advice came from the Clearinghousebased at the University of Illinois.
Examples of the jail's innovative design include private rooms clustered around multilevel commons; a patio yard in view from the common area; carpeting, graphics, plants, butcher-block tables and comfortable chairs.
Where possible, natural materials and fibers were used to avoid bombarding inmates with sounds and feeling of institution.
There was talk of letting residents select prints for their own rooms.
A swimming pool had been part of the early plans, but the idea was dropped to avoid public outcry.
The gymnasium was considered something more acceptable to the public, although still unheard of at the time. Now, it's the most popular part of the building.
Televisions for inmates also were virtually unheard of. They are recognized now as a way for inmates to spend their time and as a perk that can be withheld as a disciplinary measure.
Color televisions were one thing, but then-Sheriff William Klusak drew the line at nude graphics on the walls. He said they would have a bad effect on the inmates.
The graphics, an attempt to provide a more humane atmosphere at the jail, were paid for by the county and with the help • of a federal grant.
Elfstrom maintained that corrections director Eugene Buldak approved the nude art works, but Buldak denied approving any of the graphics.
The nudes ultimately were nixed.
A member of the jail planning committeeand leader in the county's new approach to corrections, Donald Scheib (R-St. Charles) told Carolyn Colwell, author of the "Planning" article, that he found little public opposition in more than 50 speeches in surrounding communities.
"As I've said in my talks, zoo animals are given more humane treatment than prisoners in our present facility and in county jailsall over the country."
Duffy defends some of the "soft" touches by harking back, to the theme that most inmates are legally innocent because they are awaiting trial.
"The livability is certainly a lot better than a traditional jail, but if you walk in the door and it closes behind you, you don't think it's plush."
Duffy said most materials are the same as
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