File Photo (Lake County Jail) | Photo: Google Street View.

The Lake County Jail has spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money housing inmates that were supposed to be transferred to state prisons to serve their sentences, but the department of corrections refused to accept them.

State law says IDOC must accept an inmate within 14 days of a transfer request.

However, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) completely closed its doors for county jail transfers from all of Illinois at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 under an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Sheriffs in Illinois filed a lawsuit against Pritzker and IDOC in June 2020 to force the state to resume transfers.

Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli said at the peak of the inmate transfer crisis, the Lake County Jail had nearly 80 inmates who were sentenced to state prisons but IDOC refused to accept them.

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“So the burden of housing and caring for those inmates fell on us,” Covelli said, adding that it costs the jail on average $134.52 per day to house an inmate.

The Lake County Jail has had a total of 381 inmates who have either been sentenced to IDOC or arrested on parole violation warrants, which means they are to be held at IDOC.

Covelli said due to the state’s lack of expediency to accept these inmates, it has cost the Lake County Sheriff’s Office over $2.2 million. About $1 million in expenses were able to be offset through CARES Act money.

Covelli said that the jail has almost 40 inmates still in their custody that have been sentenced to IDOC but they have not been accepted yet.

“The lack of expediency by IDOC has created a major financial and personnel burden on the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lake County taxpayers,” Covelli said.

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He added that there have been several instances where sentenced inmates have served their entire sentence at the Lake County Jail because IDOC would not accept them.

“Then, on their very last day in custody, we are required to take them to Statesville Prison, just so the inmate can be processed in and out by IDOC. This too creates a significant staff and financial burden,” Covelli said.