Kane and Kendall county sheriffs discuss combining jail populations

With fewer inmates to house at their county jails, sheriffs from Kane and Kendall counties hope to bring inmates from both counties under one roof at the Kane County jail.

In what is believed to be a first-of-a-kind proposal in the state, the Kendall County jail would close and arrestees picked up in Kendall County would be sent to the Kane County jail if they need to be held.

The proposal, announced by Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird Wednesday during a news conference, could save Kendall County as much as $1.5 million and bring in around the same in additional revenue in Kane County.

Both county boards must still approve the plan, but both sheriffs said the proposal makes sense as jail populations are expected to continue to decrease once the state's cashless bail system takes effect on Jan. 1.

"This would increase efficiency and save staffing costs of all jails involved," Hain said.

Both sheriffs said a discussion about housing female inmates at Kane County evolved into the proposal to house all inmates in Kane County. Like counties across the state, both jails have seen their jail population decrease as rules regarding bail have changed.

"The fact is, our jail populations are down from where they were five years ago," Baird said, noting that he has seen the Kendall County inmate population drop from an average of more than 70 in 2014 to current levels of around 50. Hain said when he first took office in 2018, the Kane County jail was averaging about 500 inmates daily. On Wednesday, the jail had 320 in custody.

While Kane and Kendall counties are looking for ways to deal with a decreasing jail population, officials in other counties, including Lake and Will, say it's too early to tell what impact the state's cashless bail system will have on the number of inmates housed in county jails. Baird, however, did say he received a call from another county inquiring about the Kane and Kendall proposal.

Details must still be worked out, but Hain said he is currently looking to charge about $75 a day per inmate transferred in from Kendall County. Additionally, Kendall County would have to cover the cost of transporting inmates from the Kane County jail to Kendall County for court proceedings.

Under the proposed plan, up to 30 corrections officers positions would be eliminated in Kendall County. However, both Hain and Baird noted Kendall County corrections officers could find positions in neighboring counties.

Hain said his office would be able to absorb the majority of the costs associated with bringing in more inmates leaving open the possibility that the $1.5 million in anticipated revenue from housing Kendall County inmates could be used to help offset other increased costs, such as additional prosecutors or public defenders, associated with the implementation of the Safe-T Act.

Both hope to have the plan approved in time to begin transferring inmates on Dec. 1.

Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder Wednesday said he has questions about the proposal but was supportive of the concept.

"It makes a lot of sense to me," he said, adding that feedback from fellow county board members also has been favorable.

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