ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There's a good portion of our hard-earned money that helps pay inmates to stay at the Winnebago County Jail, now a partnership is lowering the jail population and saving us money.
Each time an inmate enters the Winnebago County Jail it costs us, but now empty jail cells are becoming a common sight.
"Last year sometimes we'd have peaks of almost 1,200 but this weekend now we came in Monday morning and had 989 after a weekend for us is outstanding," Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers, said.
Despite that peak of almost 1,200 inmates just six months ago, Sheriff Dick Meyers says the average population now is about the same as it was back in 2011. Sheriff Meyers says the decline is thanks to collaboration between the sheriff's department, county board, and judicial system. The idea -- to get inmates through the court process faster.
"It doesn't do anybody good to keep the person in jail for an extended period of time before they ever get to see a judge," Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office Chief of Staff Dave Kurlinkus, said.
To speed things up the State's Attorney's and Public Defenders Offices got extra money to hire more attorneys. The offices work together to get people accused of non-violent crimes out on bond quickly. Those convicted of serious crimes are sentenced quicker. That means spending less time in jail before going to prison.
"If we can keep those numbers going and house those people that cause the biggest threat to public safety, keep those people incarcerated, I think it's just a smarter way of doing business," Meyers, said.
The State's Attorney’s Office says getting those non-violent offenders through the system faster also gives prosecutors more time to focus on serious cases.