Justice Center Problems

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Winnebago County's new criminal justice center cost 142 million dollars and is equipped with all the latest in technology. But a crowd of people waiting for loved ones to be released from the jail until early Tuesday morning was not impressed.
"It is not operating properly and they shouldn't have moved in it until it was functional," says one waiting man, Fred Smith.
The people crowding the parking lot and waiting rooms all tell of waiting hour upon hour for loved ones who'd already paid bond, or had their charges dropped. Rosie Hewittle's daughter was arrested Monday in South Beloit on a traffic violation.
Soon before midnight Monday Hewittle said, "It's been I'd say at least ten hours now, over ten hours for someone that really could just have been bonded out in South Beloit."
One woman on her way out of the jail said she arrived there at 2:00 in the afternoon ready to pay bond. Sheriff's deputies told her computers were crashed and they couldn't even process her and fingerprint her until 10:00 at night. She was not released until 1:00 in the morning. Family members say the problems don't stop with crashed computers.
"The reason that he hasn't been released is they said that they have no file and they can't find the file," says Smith.
For some the situation is more urgent. Peggy Simonoff waited for hours trying to get deputies to give medicine to her diabetic daughter.
"I said she needs her insulin or she's going to go into a coma and end up in the hospital and i said i've got her insulin right here, it's on ice but the ice is already melting and he said, 'oh.' and walked inside," says Simonoff.
Representatives from the justice center declined to comment Monday night. Family members say there's not justice yet at the justice center.
Fred Smith said the problems started in the court room where case files were not on hand during sentencings. Technical problems were so bad employees had trouble opening doors to move around the building. The justice center's supervisor said she would comment on the issues later Tuesday morning.


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