Winnebago County Will Close Jail

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The Winnebago sheriff's department willhave to close one of their jails. It's a cost cutting move the sheriff's says that he's forced into because of the county's budget deficit.

The sheriff says he has no choice but to close their satellite jail on Church Street in order to make up for than 1.2 million dollars the county is asking him to cut from his budget. He says it's either this or cut officers, a move he says he is not willing to make.

"When you have to cut 1.2 million dollars, programs have to go," said Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers.

And the satellite jail, which is a minimum-security relief valve for the county jail, is the only answer the sheriff says he can find.

" I can't eliminate the law enforcement division and I can't shut down the main jail," said Meyers.

All this is in response to county's reduction in revenue they are receiving from the state. But a move one board member says that she's not sure should be made.

"" This is something we can't do.... close the jail," said Polly Berg, Winnebago County Board Chairman. "I think it's a worse case scenario by the sheriff, but I'm just hoping and praying it never comes to this."

But the sheriff says it has, and unless the board changes what the he must cut, he says he has no choice.

"When you have to make a decision about either cutting an officer or closing cells at this jail, I don't think it's a difficult decision to make," Meyers said.

All of the inmates that will be released when the jail closes on October 1 are said to have a minimal risk to the public's safety. But the sheriff says that could change if he has to release more inmates from the overcrowded county jail that would have gone there. The board has will decide on the budget later this month.