Unpaid bills, poor bookkeeping, and untracked absenteeism contributed to deteriorating conditions at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, says an audit reported by the Chicago Tribune. The audit found that the staff at the beleaguered center sometimes ordered food without knowing whether there was money to pay for it — at one point there were $500,000 in unpaid food bills. Officials announced that Jennifer Koehler, a senior policy adviser to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, has been dispatched as a full-time senior administrator to oversee reforms at the facility as it tries to comply with a federal plan.
The audit comes during a superintendent search for the center, which has been the subject of ongoing federal litigation and repeated findings of violent, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions. Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool said, “the detention center is a cesspool of financial mismanagement and physical abuse. This place has been a patronage dumping ground for years.”