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Nearly 100 inmates released locally

January 13, 2019

KANKAKEE — The state prison system released 91 of its inmates into Kankakee County last month, the sheriff said this week.

“This is a little concerning,” Sheriff Mike Downey told the County Board’s Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday. “If that number is consistent — and we have no reason it won’t be — that would put us at 1,000 inmates (over the next year). We hope that they don’t re-offend.”

Downey said the state Department of Corrections informs his agency when it releases inmates in his jurisdiction. He said the department does not differentiate between violent and nonviolent offenders.

MORE FELONY CASES

Also at the Criminal Justice Committee meeting, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe submitted an annual report on his office’s performance.

The office filed 790 felony cases last year, the most since 2002 when it filed 794. In 2017, 753 felony cases were submitted.

The last two years’ numbers were significantly more than 2015 and 2016, when 633 and 562, respectively, were filed.

Rowe, who took office in December 2016, said an increase in felony cases filed does not mean there is an increase in crime. He said the increase is a “testament to the communication and cooperation we have with law enforcement.” Also, he said, there is a bigger effort to pursue cold cases.

FIGHTING DUIs

On DUIs, the State’s Attorney’s Office got 170 convictions in 2018. Just two cases were dismissed, according to state’s attorney’s records. One dismissal was because the defendant died, the other was because of a motion to quash an arrest and suppress evidence was granted, Rowe said.

The previous year, the office secured 111 convictions, with five cases dismissed.

In each of the two years, one person was found not guilty.

Val Gunderson, the state’s attorney’s traffic prosecutor, was credited for the increase in convictions.

Sheriff Downey said Gunderson always is available to help officers with DUIs, adding that nearly all such stops happen late at night when bars close.

“It’s such a benefit to have Val available around the clock. She has a life outside the job like we all do. She answers us. It helps our guys tremendously,” the sheriff said.

REPRESENTATION

The State’s Attorney’s Office also represents all county offices. In Rowe’s annual report, he listed the number of official requests for representation from each department.

According to the statistics, the planning and zoning office led the pack with 25 requests. The County Board chairman came in second at 19. Animal control and the health department made eight requests each.

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