WARREN COUNTY, Ill. (KWQC) — UPDATE 1/7/19: The Warren County Jail is once again receiving inmates, according to jail officials.
Officials say five inmates were taken back from Mercer County Jail on Monday, Jan. 7. As of Monday, 14 inmates remain at the Mercer County Jail.
Additional inmates will return to the Warren County Jail later in the week according to officials. This will be after some rennovations are made.
The original suspension of operations in early August
UPDATE 9/21: A $28,000 study into a needs assessment of the Warren County Jail has been approved by the Warren County Board.
The assessment is expected to take six months. The jail has also reported the hiring of four additional jailers that will receive training.
ORIGINAL 8/2/18: Warren County Jail has closed its doors due to a staffing shortage. And officials say their facility has simply become a training ground for officers in neighboring counties.
The starting hourly wage is $12.83. But Knox pays nearly seven dollars more per hour. "It makes a difference in people's pocketbooks," says Building and Ground Committee Chairman Sean Cavanaugh. "Other Counties love taking our jailers because we've already paid the thousands of dollars to train them," he added.
Cavanaugh says the county board and unions need to work together and find a solution. The County Board held an emergency finance meeting Thursday afternoon and a key issue on the agenda was the jail.
Warren County Sheriff Martin Edwards says low wages have been an ongoing issue for over a decade. "There just aren't that many people coming here looking for a job in corrections," says Sheriff Martin." It's not just the wage disparity, some just aren't looking to stay in that position very long anyway," says Martin.
The Sheriff says not having a facility will not directly impact crime but it will place an additional strain on current scarce resources. "Patrolmen are still going to respond to requests. All we're going to see is the loss of time an officer is going to have on transport," says Sheriff Martin.
The County will now have to transport all new inmates to neighboring counties and the commute will be roughly an hours turnaround there and back. This will also mean that patrol will be down an officer and that the county will also be responsible for court transfers as well. But the county has also had an ongoing shortage of patrolmen. "There's myself, the captain, the detective, and maybe a patrolman, on a good day." says Sheriff Martin.
The Warren County Sheriff wants to reopen the jail but he's not going to do it until he has a staff that is robust enough, and qualified enough to keep the jail open for the sustainable future. "This is dollars and cents. I have to maintain a jail. That is a must. It's a state law. I have to have a facility."