Instead of closing the door on inmates, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), citing the large numbers of COVID-19 infections, has closed the door to new inmates.

The move means that around 50 inmates at the Winnebago County Jail who were to be transferred to state facilities are going to have to stay put for the time being.

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Illinois State Prison Cells Normally Designated For New Inmates Are Now Being Used For Quarantine And Isolation

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, like many county sheriffs across Illinois is less than pleased at this move by IDOC, pointing out that the inmates who have to remain in the Winnebago County Jail are costing Winnebago County taxpayers money.

MyStateline.com:

“We’re doing everything we have to do, and we can’t just close the doors and say ‘OK, because of COVID, we’re not accepting anybody,’ like they’re doing,” Caruana said. “I don’t understand how we could adapt, and they can’t. And then, as far as the cost, the cost is, you know, put onto our residents of the Winnebago County- Rockford region.”

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Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana Is A Bit More Diplomatic Than Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

Where Winnebago County has around 50 inmates that are awaiting transfer, Cook County, which has Illinois' largest county jail system, has almost 600 that are supposed to have become state prison inmates.

Sheriff Dart's spokesperson told Patch.com that the state didn't even communicate their plans with Illinois sheriffs before making this call on a halt to transfers.

Patch.com:

The Illinois Department of Corrections and Gov. Pritzker's decision to once again halt transfers is completely unsurprising in light of the fact that for nearly two years they have continually pushed off their legal responsibility to house individuals ordered into their custody. This has unfairly shifted the burden to Sheriff's Offices across the state — none of which have the luxury of simply deciding not to accept individuals arrested and ordered held within their facilities. Clearly the Sheriffs could never make the decision to not accept individuals arrested by local law enforcement into their jail. This would create total mayhem.

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