A More Efficient Court System

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

But everyday we are paying for it. New details about what's being done right now with the money we pump into the Public Safety Tax. Back in 2002 we agreed to trust Winnebago County officials with our money. The One Cent Sales Tax was passed to pay for a new jail, hire more staff and find alternatives to incarceration. We see the jail taking shape, now officials are ready to overhaul the criminal justice system. Two retired judges from DuPage County have been hired by the State of Illinois to make the court system more efficient.

Chief Judge Kathryn Zenoff states, "The number of misdemeanor cases have gone up and so we're faced with more cases that we have to process through the system so it's not just backlog."

The State of Illinois is paying for the two new judges but Winnebago County is responsible for providing at least $600,000 a year. That is money that will provide the right tools to make the recalled judges successful.

Winnebago County Board Chair Scott Christiansen says, "It's up to us to fund additional states attorneys, clerks, bailiff’s and support staff to assist those."

In order to stop the revolving door syndrome steps like adding a night shift, enhancing weekend probable cause and bond procedures, expanding court times and prioritize cases by their complexity seem to be some small steps to prove to all of us that we're getting what we're paying for. The Public Sales Tax Fund is in place indefinitely. These temporary judges will step in for the next year.


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