Warren county jail reopens after closing down for five months

MONMOUTH, III (KWQC) -- The Warren County Jail in Monmouth is back in business after closing its doors for five months.

Five inmates have returned to the jail and the department hopes to bring the rest of the inmates that are being housed at the Mercer County Jail by Friday or early next week.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Edwards say his main focus right now is easing the new people in and getting them properly trained.

The work load for Warren County Correctional Officer Austin McGrew is starting to pick up.

“I come in at 7 o’clock in the morning work until 3,” said Austin McGrew, Correctional Officer for Warren County Jail. We do cell checks, hand out meals, some medical stuff,”

McGrew has been with the jail for two weeks and he's mostly been monitoring empty cells.

“The inmates have only been here about two or three days,” said McGrew.

That changed on Monday, when the jail reopened its doors after closing for five months on August 2018, due to a lack of staff.

“So retention continues to be a problem for us,” said Sheriff Edwards.

Just last week the department lost two officers. Right now, they have seven correctional officers. Two are still in the academy, so that leaves them with five working staff.

“We've actually brought a couple officers over from the courthouse, who have jail experience to have them mentor the new people and show them the procedures,” said Sheriff Edwards.

Although the number of officers is not where the department wants to be. They continue to recruit people like McGrew through word of mouth, and social media. Sheriff Edwards says the department still has a long way to go.

“We continue to compete with higher paying agencies that surround us and we are not blind to that certainly,” said Sheriff Edwards.

For now, McGrew says he's happy to keep busy.

“We get to do cell checks and a bunch of other things, we didn't get to do before when there was no one else to watch,” said McGrew.

The department has had to pay the Mercer County Jail $40 a day per inmate to help them. A study is being done on the jail to determine how the current facility stands, how to improve things, or if building a new facility is necessary. That report is expected to come out in February.