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McLean County Jail Population Shrinks As Prisons Accept Inmates Again

vehicle driving past McLean County Jail
Eric Stock
Sheriff Jon Sandage said the backlog of inmates held for the state department of corrections has dropped by about 50.

Expect more arrests and jail sentences in McLean County soon.

McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage said the backlog of jail inmates sentenced to prison is shrinking. For many months, the Illinois Department of Corrections refused to take delivery of prisoners from county lockups across the state because of COVID lockdown protocols. Several state prisons suffered significant outbreaks. Sandage gave the news to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on Thursday that situation is changing.

"We are actually making some progress getting our prisoners to DOC. We only have about 19 that should be at DOC that aren't. At one time we had close to 70," said Sandage.

Chief Circuit Judge Mark Fellheimer said the drop in the number of inmates has implications for the rest of the legal system.

"The jail situation obviously impacts jail sentences that are mandatory. Some of those have been delayed. Also there's a notice to appear that officers are giving on the street for low-level cases. That may come to an end at a certain point in time when the sheriff is comfortable with his jail population," said Fellheimer.

Fellheimer did not specify when that might come. Sandage said some of the jail inmates that McLean County continues to hold for the Corrections department are also awaiting McLean County cases and so would not be moved to prisons anyway.

Sandage said deferred sentencing and bookings have allowed the jail to better control the number of COVID cases at the facility and safeguard the health of inmates and staff.

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