Illinois prisons overcrowded despite lower incarceration rates - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Illinois prisons overcrowded despite lower incarceration rates

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Handcuffs at Adams County jail. Handcuffs at Adams County jail.
Inside a jail cell at Schuyler County jail. Inside a jail cell at Schuyler County jail.
A jail cell at Schuyler County. A jail cell at Schuyler County.
Gary Farha discusses the bond bail industry. Gary Farha discusses the bond bail industry.
Sheriff Bill Redshaw discusses recidivism. Sheriff Bill Redshaw discusses recidivism.

Overcrowding in the jail is a big issue for tax-payers whose dollars go towards housing, clothing, feeding, and treating inmates. 

In Adams County, construction workers are building a new jail because of overcrowding.

Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha said a big initiative by Governor Bruce Rauner is underway to reduce rates of incarceration by 25 percent by 2025. The state must also reconsider the bail bond industry to prevent overcrowding in jails. 

"We do want to make bonds and conditions of bonds so that people get help and don't necessarily spend a lot of time in prison," said Farha. 

Rich Wagner, chief deputy at the Adam's County Sheriff's office, said its jail has shown a steady increase in population over the past decade, which can create a safety issue for the inmates, the correction officers, and the community. The Adams County jail is currently housing 130 inmates. 

"Anything we can do like this new facility is going to be awesome for not only the inmates but the workers and the correction officers," said Wagner. 

Schuyler County houses inmates from both Brown and Cass counties. While it's been overcrowded a few times in the last few years, Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Redshaw said the jail has its own policies to prevent overcrowding. 

"I know some of the counties house federal inmates and that fills it up also," Redshaw said. "We do not house federal inmates." 

Farha said the key is to come up with a better use of resources. 

"Obviously prison is necessary for the very violent offenders and the people that put the citizens of Adams County or Illinois at risk," Farha said. "So it's just a better allocation of us using our resources." 

Redshaw said the ability to remain out of jail allows people to keep their jobs and begin to address any possible mental health or substance issues.

"It helps to find them a job and to get them back out on the streets as working people, not sitting at home and getting themselves in trouble," said Redshaw. 

Experts said to address the issue, state-level reform is crucial, but local criminal justice systems can also be a key source of changes. 

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