URBANA — A mental health worker at the Champaign County jail has been arrested for smuggling a cell phone in to the jail that an accused murderer used to make calls to someone on the outside.
A release from Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said Alyssa Solava, 24, of Bloomington, was arrested Wednesday morning by Bloomington police in that city.
Champaign County Judge Rich Klaus signed a warrant for her arrest Tuesday charging her with bringing contraband into a penal institution, a Class X felony. If convicted, she faces between six and 30 years in prison.
Solava works for Correctional Health Care Companies, the independent contractor that provides mental health services to inmates.
The charge alleges that Solava brought the phone into the downtown jail on March 6.
It was on Friday, March 9, that a woman called the jail to say she had been receiving harassing calls from accused murderer Roy Duckworth.
The 27-year-old Rantoul man has been in the county jail since March 31, 2011, charged with the first-degree murder of Marcus Brown, 21, of rural Rantoul. Mr. Brown was shot to death in the Bell Apartments on U.S. 136 on Jan. 7, 2011.
"The woman was receiving phone calls in the early morning hours and our phones are not on and our inmates are not out during those times," said Capt. Allen Jones, who oversees the jails downtown and in east Urbana.
"Staff recognized there was a problem, investigated and made the discovery," Jones said.
Jones said he did not know how many calls Duckworth may have made with the phone, which he had at least three days.
Jones referred the matter to investigators. Interviews with cell mates led the detectives to Solava.
"There was communication between the two," he said of their relationship.
Jones said he felt badly for the other mental health workers at the jail.
"This negatively reflects on the current mental health staff, who do it right, who support the inmates, and do not enable them. It looks bad for them but doesn't reflect on the quality of the service we get from our contractors," he said.
The county has contracted with Correctional Health Care Companies since 2004. One full-time employee and several part-time employees provide 84 hours of care per week for inmates, Jones said.
"These mental health workers do our intake assessments, triage, and general well-being checkups with inmates who request their services," Jones said.
Because of the serious nature of Duckworth's charge, Jones said he is routinely assessed "to make sure things are on the right track for him."
Duckworth is not due to be tried on his murder charge until early June before Judge Tom Difanis.
Solava was taken to the McLean County jail Wednesday morning and was expected to appear in Urbana on Thursday.