Ill. sheriff: No immediate plans to release inmates from jail
Sheriff Jack Campbell said about 20 nonviolent offenders have been identified as candidates for release due to COVID-19 concerns, but only if necessary
By Brenden Moore
The State Journal-Register
SANGAMON COUNTY, Ill. — Some law enforcement agencies across the country are releasing nonviolent inmates amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
But Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said there are no immediate plans to do so here given that the jail population has been dropping for the past few weeks.
Campbell said headcount at the jail was 262 as of Friday afternoon, down from the 320 to 330 it had been averaging just a few weeks ago. He said about 20 nonviolent offenders have been identified as candidates for release due to COVID-19 concerns, but only if necessary.
He said there have been proactive steps taken in the past few weeks to lower the jail population. Among them, law enforcement agencies across the county, at the sheriff's office's request, have been issuing more "notice to appear" citations in nonviolent misdemeanor cases.
"We've just taken steps like that to try to keep it down to a minimum," Campbell said. "And on top of that, I have a theory that the general public — and I should say those who maybe have the propensity to commit crimes — are not committing crimes. I think that there's a lull in the action, so to speak."
Campbell said other steps have been taken to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak among the jail population. Nearly all visitations and programming have been suspended and every employee that arrives at the jail has their temperature taken.
Campbell acknowledged that social distancing can be "difficult" to achieve in a jail setting, but he said they were "doing our best to try to keep people separated."
He said inmates are being monitored every day for flu-like symptoms. There were none with such symptoms until last week, when an inmate who has been in custody for several weeks started to show them.
Campbell said that inmate was isolated out of an abundance of caution.
©2020 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.