Tri-County Jail is now one-county short on inmates

By Carly O'Keefe - bio | email

ULLIN, IL (KFVS) - One of three counties that make up the Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin, Illinois is moving its prisoners out.

Union County inmates will now go to the Jackson County Jail. County officials say it's all due to budget and security concerns.

The Union County Sheriff's Department has only three deputies working at a time, sometimes less. When Tri-County Detention Center stopped transporting inmates to court, it locked up day-to-day operations at the Union County Sheriff's Department.

"The most we can haul is two prisoners for one officer," said Union County Sheriff David Livesay. "Most of my patrolmen would spend most of their day transporting prisoners."

That took deputies off the road and kept them from fulfilling their duty to serve and protect.

When the private company that runs the Tri-County Detention Center, Paladin Eastside, increased its rates above what Union County agreed to pay by contract, Union County leaders opted to take its business, and its inmates elsewhere.

"It was a $10 per-prisoner, per-day increase plus transport added onto that," said Livesay. "So you can see how that would really destroy the budget that was set."

The Jackson County Jail will now hold Union County inmates and drive them to and from court every day for $5 per-day, per-inmate less than Tri-County.

"We're looking at a substantially lower rate and from a service standpoint we're looking at better prisoner transport and what we feel is better security," said Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds.

While Paladin runs the jail, Pulaski County is ultimately responsible for paying for it. Pulaski County Commissioner Monte Russell says one less county in Tri-County won't break the bank, so long as federal inmates continue to fill its cells.

"Ultimately Pulaski County is on the hook for debt service and upkeep of the jail as long as we've got Paladin as a partner we can weather whatever comes," Russell said.

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