SYCAMORE – As of Aug. 17, the DeKalb County Jail’s decades-old overcrowding problem has appeared to come to an end after inmates housed in other counties returned to the newly expanded county jail.
The total cost for housing DeKalb County inmates in other counties in 2018 was $641,520, according to housing invoices from Kendall and Boone counties obtained by Shaw Media through the Freedom of Information Act. That was from January through mid-August, when the jail brought the inmates back after the jail expansion was completed and DeKalb County inmates moved into the expansion.
Joyce Klein, chief of corrections for the DeKalb County Jail, said the 31 inmates housed in August in the Kendall and Boone county jails were brought back Aug. 14 and Aug. 17, respectively, to the DeKalb County Jail. She said no DeKalb County inmates have been sent to other counties since.
“I expect this to be OK for a while,” Klein said.
Klein said the current capacity for the jail expansion is 140 general population beds, which does not count the jail’s booking and holding area, and the jail could add 60 beds in the future in a currently undeveloped part of the building.
She said the number of inmates averaged at about 123 a day throughout 2018 and currently is 109.
There were a total of 164 DeKalb County inmates housed in Boone County in 2018, with the monthly number ranging from 13 to 27, according to the Feb. 19 FOIA documents. A total of 303 DeKalb County inmates were housed in Kendall County in 2018, with that monthly number ranging from 18 to 57, according to the documents.
With a rate of $60 a day per inmate for Kendall and Boone counties, DeKalb County spent between $19,620 and $117,300 a month to house its own inmates in either of the two outside counties. Those numbers include financial credits for the DeKalb County Jail housing one or two Boone County detainees in May, June, July and August, the Feb. 19 FOIA documents said.
Klein said it only happens once in a while when the DeKalb County Jail has to house an inmate from another county.
She said that could be the result of defendants that have to be kept apart and the jail isn’t able to sufficiently separate them, for example.
“There are a lot of different reasons why you might want to get someone out of your jail and they would have to be housed in a different location,” Klein said.
In a situation where the DeKalb County Jail was overcrowded, Klein said, it could just mean that another DeKalb County inmate would be housed in the Boone County Jail in exchange for the Boone County inmate to be housed in DeKalb County.
Klein said DeKalb County has sent its inmates only to the jails in Boone and Kendall counties. She said it has been years since DeKalb County has sent inmates to other counties other than those two. According to fiscal 2019 county budget documents, only $3,000 is budgeted for housing DeKalb County inmates in other counties in 2019.
“The remaining [...] budgetary savings of not having to house inmates in other Counties is being used to fund increased jail operating costs generated by the Jail Expansion,” the fiscal 2019 county budget narrative said.
Klein said it’s difficult to say whether overcrowding could become a problem again with the new jail expansion because she doesn’t know how many crimes may happen in the coming years or what inmate sentences may look like during that time.
“There’s no way to know what will happen in the future,” Klein said.