Folks turn out for forum on prison crowding - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Folks turn out for forum on prison crowding

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A call to end overcrowding in Winnebago County's jail through faith based help is answered by county officials.

They say the jail isn't overcrowded but would still like to see more community involvement.

With around 1300 beds available and 1000 prisoners give or take, county officials say they haven't reached the breaking point but they always would like to see less inmates and think the community can help with that.

"I don't know if there's a connection with what you're all doing and with the school districts in the county to really work with that particular issue," asked someone taking part in the forum.

A panel of county officials answer these questions and more, all with one purpose: finding ways to bring more outreach to the Winnebago County jail.

Rockford Urban Ministries Director Stanley Campbell wants to do just that.  Thursday's focus; getting the faith community involved.

"While we have people in jail though, we should try and do something for them so that the recidivism will not be as great as it is now," said Campbell.

According to Judge Janet Holmgren, programs aren't at a shortage.  She says over $2 million a year goes toward them.

As former Deputy States Attorney David Gill suggests, it's about a physical presence.

"You can use your position as shepherds of the flock."

Campbell holds the jail to high standards.  He says, it's for good reason.

"I think that the community deserves good programs within the jail, we have the best jail in the state if not within the Midwest.  And we should also have the best programs as well."

Programs aren't the only means of lessening prisoner volume.  The sheriff's department works toward moving prisoners through the system faster, adding more public defenders and other positions in hopes of lowering prisoner numbers.

"Shame on us if we sit back and let those numbers rise without trying to do something about it," said Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers.

Rockford Urban Ministries will be hosting more forums like this focusing on numerous topics.

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