Jail population on the rise

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- After hitting a record low a little more than a year ago, numbers in the Winnebago County Jail are jumping again which means more of our tax dollars will be going towards paying for criminals to stay behind bars.

It was a warning from the Winnebago County State's Attorney more than seven months ago that has now happened. The number of inmates in the jail has gone from a record low of 676 in 2016 to 810 in March of 2017, a 20% jump and one the State's Attorney says is unnecessary.

The County worked for years to bring the numbers down after hovering above 1,000 in 2012. State's Attorney Joe Bruscato says the recent increase is a direct result of under-staffing and under-funding in his office and others within the court system.

"At some point in time you have to prioritize where we're going to put our money, where we're going to invest, and my humble suggestion is that public safety is a priority and to me it is the key or the gateway to all the other successes in our community," says Bruscato.

It costs $72 a day to house inmates in the jail. That's an extra $9,600 taxpayers are paying today, compared to last year.

This comes as the county faces a $4 to $5 million budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.