County jail not getting $9.2M grant

By Gus Bode

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will not receive a $9.2 million grant that would have nearly doubled the capacity of the frequently overcrowded county jail in Murphysboro.

The grant, for which the office applied earlier this year, is offered through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and would have expanded the jail from 117 beds to 224 beds.

Jackson County Sheriff Bob Burns said not receiving the grant is disappointing, particularly because the jail is frequently at or near capacity.

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Additionally, overcrowding at the jail makes it difficult to segregate certain populations, such as violent offenders or people with mental illnesses.

Tom Busch, administrative assistant, said the grant was split evenly between Winnebago county and Moultrie county jails.

The purpose of the grant was to relive pressure from the Illinois Department of Corrections by providing space to house fewer felony inmates at county jails instead of state facilities.

Lt. Jeff Whitbeck, jail administrator, previously said overpopulation at state jails is trickling into county facilities due to the Truth in Sentencing Program, which requires most offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentenced jail time.

Busch said the office was not given a reason why they did not receive the grant but that it will continue to search for ways to secure additional funding.

“Basically it’s business as usual,” Busch said. “We have been down this road before with other grants and situations where we try to generate additional revenue, but we have to keep marching on.”

Reporter Monique Garcia can be reached at [email protected]

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