Where are the savings going from drop in jail population?

It has been reported that Winnebago County is now saving $65 a day, per inmate, since the jail population has gone down. By my calculation, the county is saving about $25,000 a day, $175,000 per week, $700,000 per month. That’s around $8,400,000 a year. So, where is all this money going?

With all this (extra) money that they are saving, why did the Winnebago County Board deny the purchase of a handicap accessible vehicle for Corrections? As guardians of the public safety, and to limit exposure to detainee and officer injury, you would think the county board and the elected officials would want to purchase this vehicle before someone gets hurt.

With all the money being saved, there is more than enough financial ability to purchase new radios and hire more employees at the 911 Emergency Call Center, Corrections and maintenance.

Keep in mind that staffing levels at the jail have nothing to do with the inmate population. The Criminal Justice Center is a direct supervision facility that requires a minimum number of staff to run it properly. You cannot safely run the jail like the old liner-style jail, as it is not configured that way.

Corrections officers voicing our concern about staffing and safety is not a “ploy” or “negotiation tactic,” as some have suggested. County employees are determined to bring to light the very issues we have been forced to deal with over the past several years. Regrettably, these safety and health issues have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

Winnebago County administration needs to stop avoiding the questions we want answers to. Stop with the smokescreens. The citizens of Winnebago County deserve to know where all this money is going. It’s not going to adequately staff the jail or 911 Call Center. Where is it being spent?

Anthony Ponte
Vice President of Special Projects, AFSCME Local 473

From the Dec. 3-9, 2014, issue

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