Winnebago County Jail population drops to 765

Staff Report

Population at Winnebago County Jail has dropped significantly, according to Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen’s (R) office.

Christiansen’s office distributed a press release Nov. 14 that read: “After decades of unprecedented growth in the Winnebago County Jail population, the numbers reached a four-year low last week, dropping from an all-time high of 1,170 in May of 2012 to 765 today, a drop of 405.”

Christiansen stated in the release: “This is a real credit to all of the people involved in Winnebago County Public Safety, including the County Board who supported the extra funding for additional staff that made this possible. This dramatic drop in numbers would never have taken place without the cooperative and collaborative work ethic of all departments involved in the criminal justice system.”

Jail population in October 2011 was 1,009, with 16,045 bookings in 2012. Jail population in October 2014 was 765, with 15,413 bookings (annualized) in 2014.

Average days to disposition for criminal felony cases were as follow, by year: 2011 — 471; 2012 — 341; 2013 — 291; and 2014 — 282.

Average days to disposition for criminal misdemeanor cases were as follow, by year: 2011 — 406; 2012 — 408; 2013 — 200; and 2014 — 176.

The new Criminal Justice Center opened in 2007 with a jail capacity of 1,212. The county jail had a population of 665 in 2007 when the center opened. As the jail population continued upward (2012), Christiansen initiated weekly meetings of the stakeholders of both law enforcement and the justice system to address the problem. The following several steps were taken to reduce jail population:

1. Employment was adjusted in key departments, as follows:

• State’s Attorney’s Office, by year: October 2011 — 76; October 2012 — 78; October 2013 — 83; and October 2014 — 90.

• Public Defender’s Office, by year: October 2011 — 36; October 2012 — 41; October 2013 — 43; and October 2014 — 45.

• Court Administration, by year: October 2011 — 32; October 2012 — 37; October 2013 — 39; and October 2014 — 38.

• Court Services, by year: October 2011 — 143; October 2012 — 143; October 2013 — 147; and October 2014 — 155.

• Circuit Court, by year: October 2011 — 95; October 2012 — 98; October 2013 — 98; and October 2014 — 93.

• Sheriff’s Department, by year: October 2011 — 399; October 2012 — 402; October 2013 — 413; and October 2014 — 413.

2. Pretrial release practices:

Winnebago County instituted a “fast-track review” program. The prosecutors, public defenders, county jail director and head of pretrial services meet every Friday morning to reach agreement to clear cases with guilty pleas and to remove inmates from jail.

3. Court and case management:

With Winnebago County Board approval, work began on the development of a court and case management system in June 2008 that launched in November 2010. The program was designed to provide integrated support of court data.

4. Alternative and community-based programs:

Pre-Trial, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Resource Intervention Center — Total in 2015: $2,506,549.

5. Resource Intervention Center (RIC):

Under one roof, the county has programs including Anger Management, GED, Computer Skills, Job Readiness, etc. Annual offense rates have decreased 65 percent.

From the Nov. 19-25, 2014, issue

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