CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) - There are many expenses that a jail and county must face. For Crawford County, Illinois, one area of note is prisoner transports.
Crawford County Sheriff Bill Rutan says, "Just on an average 4-hour round trip transport, I’m looking at approximately $400-500 dollars."
Rutan says several trips take place each month. This includes traveling to court, the department of corrections, the doctor, or extraditing a suspect. Rutan says something he counts on about 4 times a month is mental health transports.
He shares, "There are times that we have to go to the St. Louis area or up around Chicago. Which St. Louis a trip there and back, 6 hours. Chicago is almost 10 for a round trip."
The Sheriff says it's one thing if a single officer could make the trip, but unfortunately, that's not the case.
Rutan says, "Normally if we have any type of distance to it, we have to have two deputies or correctional officers on the transport. So we're not only costing fuel, but the time included."
When it comes to transporting inmates, the Sheriff says that the biggest cost is paying officers overtime hours. That's why the Sheriff says he's stepping into most of these transport roles, to keep costs down.
Rutan Shares, "Of course myself being a salaried employee, I don't have to worry about overtime. So I am going myself as one of the two people on the transport."
Even later this week, Rutan's time is already spoken for. That's as an unexpected case to bring someone back from California has come up.
He says, "We're looking at a $2,000 dollar transport fee because the person decided to leave the state after they committed a crime."
The Sheriff says recently the county switched to a correctional health care system. That means the doctors and nurses come to the facility instead of the inmates being transported. Sheriff Rutan says the health care system has its own cost to it, but overall the move is saving the county money.
The Sheriff says, "It does add up, but the medical trips have diminished a lot since we have started this advanced medical care for the correctional facility."
Prior to the switch, Rutan says they were making 15-20 trips a month back and forth for doctor visits. Now, all he has to worry about is prisoner transports to the Emergency Room.
The Sheriff says prisoner transports aren't a huge blow to the county's budget. However, he does estimate that over the last year the county has spent several thousand dollars on it.