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

2 thoughts on “Winter jackets a life-or-death need for many leaving Winnebago County Jail

  • Jan 7, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Uh, I have NO compassion when it comes to criminals. THESE are consequences of committing a crime. We, as a society, do NOT let people suffer consequences for their actions; therefore, we have too many people feeling entitled! SO WHAT, they don’t have coats when they leave jail–that is a SMALL consequence for their criminal acts. What are the HUGE consequences the victims of their crimes have had to endure?????? Sorry, I think Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry should be more concerned with the victims’losses instead of the criminals having coats when they leave jail!!!

    • Jan 7, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      They did suffer the consequences of their actions – they were incarcerated. Where just not a community who chooses to let anyone, even someone leaving jail, freeze to death.

      If you are a praying person, I do hope you will pray for some compassion.

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