Local taxpayers on hook as state refuses to accept new inmates

WGN Investigates

Last week, WGN Investigates reported the Illinois Department of Corrections refusal to accept many new inmates from county jails.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, transfers were stopped for people convicted of crimes who were supposed to be moved from local jails to state prisons to serve their sentence. 

Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey has now put a price tag on the problem.  He says Kankakee County taxpayers are being forced to pick-up the $650,000 cost of feeding, housing and securing inmates who should be in state prison.  Downey, like the other sheriffs WGN Investigates interviewed, said he has sent bills to the state that haven’t been paid.

Downey said some inmates have actually spent longer in his jail than they would have in state custody but he doesn’t have the power to release them.

An Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson told WGN last week that state prisons are now accepting some new inmates.

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