Sheriffs unveil plan to house Kendall County inmates at Kane County Jail

Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, left, outlines plans for housing Kendall inmates at the Kane County jail, as Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain listens, during a press conference on July 27 at Hain's office in St. Charles. (Mark Foster --

The Kendall County jail in Yorkville could be closed before the end of the year with its inmate population housed at the Kane County jail in St. Charles.

The change would save up to $1.5 million a year for Kendall County and provide a revenue stream of a similar amount for Kane County.

The sheriffs of the two counties are proposing the partnership to deal with the expected drop in prisoner counts when the cashless bail system takes effect on Jan. 1 under a new state law.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird outlined their plans during a press conference on July 27 at Hain’s office in St. Charles.

Both sheriffs said economies of scale are driving the proposal.

The Kendall jail population count is expected to become too low to justify its continued operation, while the much larger jail in Kane could easily accommodate the additional prisoners.

“We really need to take a look at how we do business,” Baird said. “The fact is our jail populations are down.”

The Kendall jail, with a capacity of 203, typically has about 130 to 140 inmates on a given day, but normally only 50 to 60 of these are from Kendall County.

The rest are federal prisoners or those from other jurisdictions, particularly Cook County.

Kendall County Sheriff's Office and Jail, 1102 Cornell Lane, Yorkville

Baird is forecasting a 30% drop in the number of those jailed. Under the cashless bail system, persons deemed not to be a threat to the public would be released on a signature bond.

“There seems to be a push in Springfield that they want to keep people out of jail,” Baird said.

The jail in Kane has a capacity of 640 inmates, but most days is holding about half that number. Hain said two of the jail’s cell blocks are currently out of operation.

Prisoners from Kendall County can easily be absorbed into the Kane County jail, Hain said.

“We don’t need to add staff,” Hain said.

Both sheriffs cited the variety of programs for inmates at the Kane County jail that are credited with reducing opioid deaths and criminal recidivism and would benefit prisoners from Kendall County.

The Kane and Kendall county boards will each need to approve the arrangement.

There are 34 corrections officers assigned to the Kendall jail, although about a third of them are currently away from duty for a variety of reasons. As a result, the county is forced require officers to work overtime, which is both expensive and unpopular.

Baird said he recently had two corrections officers resign on the spot after being asked to work overtime.

“We recognize that people are upset about overtime,” Baird said.

Kendall County would save between $1 million and $1.5 million in the first year of the partnership, Baird said, plus a one-time savings of about $2 million in capital costs for improvements at the jail that would not need to be undertaken.

“That’s real money,” Baird said.

The per prisoner, per day rate that Kendall County would pay Kane County is under negotiation.

Hain said his office is seeking a four-year contract, with Kendall paying $75 a day for each prisoner for the first two years of the deal and $78 a day for the second two years.

Transporting prisoners from Kendall County to the Kane County jail would be the responsibility of the police agency making the arrest.

The Kendall Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for transporting prisoners from the jail to the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville for court appearances.

However, the sheriffs noted that the court system has embraced the virtual meeting technology that has become common since the COVID-19 pandemic and that many judicial hearings would be handled without the prisoner leaving the jail.

Closing the Kendall jail would result in layoffs of corrections officers.

“These are hard decisions,” Baird said. “We have dedicated staff members who I know are not very happy with me right now.”

The jail could be shut down completely, or accept only Kendall County arrestees with a reduced corrections staff.

Hain, who has a corrections staff of 124, said there would be opportunities for Kendall corrections officers to transfer to Kane or other area counties.

Baird said he is already working to transfer the federal prisoners and other inmates who are not Kendall County residents out of the Kendall jail.

Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder attended the press conference and indicated support for the concept of sending Kendall inmates to Kane’s facility.

“It makes a lot of sense and takes a lot of courage to propose this,” Gryder said. “I have a lot of questions but I support the concept.”

Baird is expected to make a formal presentation to the Kendall County Board on Aug. 11.