With our Winnebago County Jail so overcrowded, some cases are not being prosecuted.
Every time the Police Department makes an arrest, the case is screened by the Winnebago County state’s attorney's office. At that point it's decided if charges will be filed. In order to abide by a federal lawsuit, only 450 inmates can be behind bars.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli says, "The charges that were simply not filing are disorderly conduct, trespass to land, low level incidents where there's no violence."
If someone were to commit the crime of shoplifting, they would still be arrested but would be released on what is known as a “recog bond,” meaning no money is needed to get out of jail. That is unless they have a prior record.
Logli says, "We are very careful that we are not dismissing cases involving violence, cases involving injury to persons, cases involving actual theft or serious damage to property."
Logli says the jail overcrowding, though, is not changing how many arrests are made on the streets.
Logli states, "It's a delicate balance between maintaining population in jail and negatively affecting public safety."
Logli says his office is not dealing with these little cases as they would like to, but it's not because they don't want to. It's just the method that's been selected to meet a federal requirement while the work continues on a new Winnebago County jail.
To help reduce overcrowding, the women have been moved to the satellite jail and cases are moving through the courts more quickly. The jail population has to be reduced to 400 by September 1.