ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Police Chief Chet Epperson has been blaming a lot of Rockford’s crime on repeat criminals, people who are on parole and just can't seem to get out of trouble. However, some jail statistics do not support that theory.
Last year 16,041 people were booked into the Winnebago County Jail, only a third were on parole, the lowest number since 2005.
That means more and more local criminals are getting into trouble for the first time and as crime spreads further out, Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputies are booking more people into jail. Winnebago County Deputies arrested 36% of inmates last year, up 16 percent from 2005, when Rockford Police were the ones making more arrests.
Both the city and the county are down about 20 officers and as a result fewer people were arrested last year. Rockford Police officers only arrested 43.6% of people booked in the jail. That percent is typically much higher.
Last spring, Rockford leaders took a trip to Racine to visit one of Wisconsin’s most successful re-entry programs for people on parole, yet no real steps have been taken in that direction since the trip to Racine. Rockford Police say there are 800 people on parole in Winnebago County and only about 20 parole officers to monitor them, but this doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.