Winnebago County Sheriff hopes tablets will make up for budget s - – Rockford’s News Leader

Winnebago County Sheriff hopes tablets will make up for budget short fall, cut down on assaults


Instead of using a traditional phone, inmates at the Winnebago County Jail can now use a tablet to make their calls. 

"We're really excited with everything they did for us with these tablets. I feel like this the best thing they ever did," inmate Darshay Nelson says.  

But, they can also use those devices to play games, read books, get their GED as well as gain job and parenting skills. 

The Winnebago County Sheriff says this comes as the department faces several layoffs with the recent budget shortfall -- which means these inmates spend more time inside their cells. 

"We're starting to get short staffed with all these budget cuts, so we're going to have rolling lock downs meaning they'll be in those cells with the door shut for x amount period of time," Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana says. 

Inmates say that means they can be in their cells for up to eight hours at a time. 

"When we first get off -- man --- we just go crazy -- we just go crazy," Nelson says. 

Some of the services -- like phone calls-- come with a cost. The price for a phone cal is roughly 20 cents a minute. 

Inmates won't have to wait in line to make their calls --- meaning more inmates could be making more calls. 

"On the low end, it's $904,000 which goes into the general fund --Which we're hoping," Caruana says.  

At the end of the day, Sheriff Caruana says he hopes inmates use these tools to help get them back on their feet and not step foot inside the Winnebago County Jail again. 

"This is the last time I'm here," Nelson says. 

The sheriff also says inmates will not have access to the internet and those tablets can be taken away for bad behavior. 

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