Illinois revamps early release inmate program


Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - David Dycus
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

POPE COUNTY, Ill. - Several southern Illinois sheriffs are upset over the state's plan to release well-behaved prisoners early.

"I think the wrong message is being sent out," Sheriff Jerry Suits said.

For more than 30 years, Suits has been around all kinds of criminals. "We have to have a place to put these people," he said.

Putting them back on the streets, isn't the best solution, Suits told Local 6. "I really think it's a disservice to the victims of these crimes that we're working everyday."

The sheriff says crime in Pope County is on the rise, along with the arrests. His department is spending 400% more this year on housing and transporting inmates compared to last year. "Now, there's no money, facilities are closing but you know what, we still got that violence out there, still have laws being broken," the sheriff said.

Illinois Department of Corrections Spokesperson Stacey Solano released this statement: "The department has held various meetings with local law enforcement officials in recent months informing them of the program and will continue to meet and work side by side with them to ensure public safety."

Even still, Sheriff Suits said the state's early release won't stop him from making more arrests. "What's going to continue and what this sheriff is going to do, we're going to continue doing what we're doing," he said.