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Numbers up at county jails

October 25, 2018 GMT

KANKAKEE — Kankakee County is seeing more local inmates in its jails, a trend the sheriff says he cannot explain.

Sheriff Mike Downey reported Wednesday that the local inmate population has increased to well more than 280 a day, which he called “problematic.”

“They are the ones we primarily are responsible for when it comes to operating the jail,” Downey told the county board’s finance committee. “We thought the number would go down a bit with the Bail Reform Act. That is somewhat surprising to all of us. Hopefully, we can get that number where it is more workable.”

The county also has contracts to house inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service and ICE, bringing extra millions a year to help pay for other county functions.

The number of inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service has jumped from 150 a day to 180, Downey said.

“Corrections does a wonderful job of housing all of our inmates and detainees,” the sheriff said.

Downey also spoke to the finance committee about the demands on the patrol, or “sworn,” division. He said county board members may not pay as much attention to that part of the Sheriff’s Department.

“For one reason or another, it doesn’t get covered in the paper that much,” he said. “We did have a homicide a month ago and another shooting. Unfortunately, we are unable to predict when violent and serious crime happens. We don’t have a crystal ball. That puts quite a burden on detectives and the rest of the staff.”

Also at the finance committee meeting, new county board member Jackie Haas, R-Bourbonnais, told the board she would refrain from some votes.

“If there are payments to the Helen Wheeler Center, I would need to abstain,” she said.

Haas has been the president and chief executive of the Helen Wheeler Center for Community Mental Health the last 18 years.