Get Out of Jail Free

By: Cara Restelli
By: Cara Restelli

A survey of crime during the first quarter of the year shows startling results in Winnebago County. While crime in the rest of the state is falling, Winnebago County is showing significant increases. And the reason for this may surprise you.

The overall crime rate so far in Illinois this year is down, that's good news for the rest of the state, but not for Winnebago County where crime is up. And according to some county officials, a big reason for this could be an over-crowded jail.

Just weeks after learning that Winnebago County had the highest crime rate in Illinois during 2001, officials get another blow. While the crime rate in the state if Illinois for the first quarter of 2002 is down one-percent, crime in Winnebago County is up nearly 30-percent. And according to state's attorney Paul Logli who spoke on 23 News Friday morning releasing prisoners early because of jail overcrowding could contribute to these statistics. The 35 released prisoners who couldn't make bond are all repeat offenders accused of non-violent crimes. But only four had bonds less than $100. While Logli and Sheriff Meyers say a new jail could alleviate this problem, they still have to convince some hesitant voters to approve a one-percent sales tax increase for the new facility.

If approved, the one-percent sales tax increase would not only fund the $130 million jail.

It also would be used to hire more prosecutors and public defenders as well as fund alternative sentencing and crime-prevention programs.


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