Daily Herald opinion: Jail sharing plan is a win for taxpayers, Kane and Kendall counties

  • The Kane County jail will begin taking in Kendall County inmates by the end of the year.

      The Kane County jail will begin taking in Kendall County inmates by the end of the year. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 7/29/2022 6:14 AM
This editorial is the consensus opinon of the Daily Herald Editorial Board

There are 102 counties in Illinois but only 92 county jails.

Clearly, the idea of two counties sharing a jail is not a new one, but it is novel in the populous suburbs of the Chicago area.

 

Sure, the McHenry County jail once also housed detainees for the federal government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement department years ago, but the passage of a state law precluding such contracts, which had been lucrative for McHenry County, scuttled that deal.

Now, Kendall County will find itself with too few inmates to justify staffing and operating a county jail.

And neighboring Kane County, which once had a horrible overcrowding problem, will soon have room at the inn.

So in a plan that helps Kendall County save millions on operating its jail while providing Kane County a new income stream, Kendall will be sending its inmates to Kane County.

Illinois, you might recall, has more units of government than any other state -- even though it's only the sixth most populous state. And that means government in Illinois provides some things other states do not -- or it hasn't figured out how to do the same things more efficiently -- without overlapping the duties of other taxing bodies.

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We've long been proponents of governmental consolidation where it makes sense to do so.

And, no offense to Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain or Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, but sharing a jail in this case is a no-brainer.

How did this opportunity come about?

It started as a discussion about whether some consolidation would help economize on the incarceration of women, since there are about five men for every woman incarcerated in Kane County.

But starting Jan. 1, 2023, the SAFE-T Act goes into effect, creating a cashless bail system. That is expected to drastically reduce the overall inmate count in both Kane and Kendall jails. In Kendall, the sheriff's review predicts it no longer makes sense to run a jail.

When Kane County moved to its current facility in 2007, it had 640 beds and 750 inmates, Hain said. It now averages 315 detainees with that same capacity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

People tend to move through the legal system faster these days, the average stay being 60 to 90 days.

Under the arrangement between the two counties, Kane County expects to see an average of 50 to 55 Kendall inmates a day. In exchange, Kendall would pay Kane County roughly $75 a day.

Hain estimates the arrangement would generate $1.5 million to $1.7 million a year, using the same number of people to staff the jail. All transport to Kendall County courthouse would be done by Kendall County.

We applaud both sheriffs for doing something that will benefit taxpayers.

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