ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Many people seem to think life in jail is comfortable: there's no rent to pay, you can exercise all day and watch TV. However, there's a lot about prison that people don't realize.
Winnebago County Sheriff Meyers said, "There are no bars on the cells. There's no weight room and there's no basketball court. When someone comes to visit them they can't see them in person, they can only see their face through a television screen."
The Winnebago County Jail is state-of-the-art and it was designed to change things.
Meyers said, "Under the old system the person that ran the pod was the strongest inmate in there." and if the strongest guy didn't want to get his GED, you couldn't either. People were afraid to sign up because when the guard wasn't around they'd have to answer to this guy."
Now a corrections officer is the strongest guy in the room 24 hours a day. GED numbers are up and inmate assaults are down by 60 percent.
Meyers said, “There could be sexual assaults going on and when we'd go in to check it would stop before we got there because they'd hear you coming."
Because of the new jail's design that hardly happens anymore. Cells are made of cement, bunk beds are made of steel, and there are no pillows or sheets. There’s just an itchy flannel army blanket. hey wash their own underwear and pay for the cable. For exercise they are allowed to walk around for an hour each day in a small room. As for conjugal visits, there’s no such thing.
One other thing we found out: the jail has no cleaning staff. Inmates do all the cleaning themselves. They cook all the food and wash all their own clothes.