Winter jackets a life-or-death need for many leaving Winnebago County Jail

Staff Report

When folks are arrested and placed in Winnebago County Jail, they come in with the clothes on their backs — that’s it. If they remain incarcerated for any length of time, they may lose their apartment (and possessions), or if they were “couch hopping” (moving from place to place), they lose much, if not all, of their possessions. So, many of the folks leaving the jail not only have nowhere to go, but leave the jail with only the clothes on their backs. What if they enter the jail in June and leave in January? Short answer — they freeze (unless someone steps in).

The jail does the best it can to provide winter jackets, but when the weather turns very cold very quickly, supplies of winter coats just run out. So, for the past several years, Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry has coordinated donations of winter coats, hats and gloves from around the community to help men and women who have only the clothes on their backs (and often those clothes are summer clothes). Jackets were received from Heartland Church, St. Rita’s Church, Carpenter’s Place and St. Elizabeth’s Community Center.

This is a community issue, so we have taken a community approach to address it,” Ortiz said.

For more about Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry, visit or call (815) 319-66255.

From the Jan. 7-13, 2015, issue

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