A Tough Cell



Early in the morning, Angela Brown, who was married a week before being lodged in jail Oct. 8, 2014, rests on her bunk in Section 5A at the Adams County Jail, Quincy. She says one of the most difficult things about being in jail is not being able to see daylight for weeks on end. The window behind her was boarded up years ago to help prevent extreme cold air from entering the jail cell in the winter months. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


The foot traffic gets heavy and bottles necks in the narrow booking area, the hub of operations, as corrections officer Erik Couick, center, and Jay Finley begin the process of placing restraints on inmates in preparation for their court appearances. At any time the area can quickly become congested with prisoners, attorney’s, probation officers, and those arriving to be booked. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


An inmate sits in the only “holding cell” in the entire jail, awaiting booking. Without a toilet, even this cell isn’t an actual proper holding cell. Typically many of those arrested and brought to the jail could wait in holding cells overnight and bond out of the jail after seeing a judge in the morning. However, since there are effectively no holding cells in the Adams County Jail, nearly everybody is booked and placed in the general population cells. Although the staff tries its best to classify inmates, because of the shortage of cells, it’s common for non-violent first-time offenders to be placed in the general population with violent offenders. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


A prisoner who fell ill in the jail is lifted down 2 flights of stairs to an elevator by first responders. The jail, located on the third floor of the Adams County Courthouse, is accessible by a small elevator on the basement floor, which ends at the second floor, leaving the remaining approach to a flight of narrow stairs. The jail isn’t compliant with the American Disabilities Act, and the stairway is dangerous for prisoners and officers, who at times must carry people in wheelchairs, or struggle with uncooperative prisoners being transported to the jail. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


An inmate is housed in a cell isolated from the general population for disciplinary reasons. There are only 4 cells available for those who must be kept to themselves for safety and discipline problems, or those found by a judge to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. It can take months to transfer a mentally incompetent person to a proper psychiatric facility, leaving the possibility of placing prisoners in the lawyer visiting cage, or the one holding cell designed to hold prisoners who are being booked. The lack of specialized cells makes it difficult and at times impossible to properly classify and separate inmates, resulting in situations where people being held until they can bond out on minor offenses are placed in the general population with violent offenders. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


Court security officers John Envin, left, and Darren Baker, escort prisoners to the courtroom. The less than ideal process, dictated by the facility’s structural design shortcomings, entails walking the inmates down a flight of stairs to the second floor, where they take the elevator to the first floor. Inmates are required to face the elevator walls as a security measure, so they can’t see the officers, or formulate any plans to put officers in jeopardy. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


Correction officers serve lunch to inmates, one inmate at a time. Two officers are always on hand working together to provide food to the inmates. The facility design dictates opening a main door to the cell blocks to serve food, potentially exposing the officers to danger. In July, 2014, an officer was shanked by an inmate, and seriously injured while serving lunch. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


For exercise, two inmates walk the length of Section 7, a dormitory type room that can house up to 32 prisoners. There is no recreation yard for inmates to breathe fresh air, or see the light of day. Often only one of the four available showers actually works. The “prison plumbing” parts are scarce, so when toilets and showers break town it can take weeks and sometimes months to repair them. Corrections officer Tim O’Dear, says in the summer months the smell of the lack of showering in the air is apparent. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


Inmate Terri Cain cleans and mops the shower area in jail dormitory 5A, where she’s been held since Oct. 7th, 2014 pending charges. Because of overcrowding she is one of a few inmates who sleeps on a mattress on the floor. Her bedding is nearest to the shower which leaks water through the base onto the floor. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt


A mentally unstable woman brought in during the evening sleeps on the floor of the “lawyer’s cage,” a booth constructed of wood, some distance away from the booking area, designed to provide lawyer and client privacy. This area is often used as a cell, because of the current facility’s limitations. With only one holding cell in the entire jail, it’s virtually impossible for attorney’s and clients to use the space. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt

Published by steve bohnstedt

Photojournalist and artist residing in Quincy Illinois.

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