Kane County Sheriff Proposes 'New Approach' To Jailing

Bernie Tafoya
August 29, 2019 - 12:21 pm
Prison Jail

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The sheriff of Kane County is hoping judges do more of a serious look into how some suspects have been trying to turn around their lives so people aren’t locked up on high bail amounts when they could be doing something productive on the outside. '

Sheriff Ron Hain knows he has a "new approach" to jailing, but he said that, "lockin’ em up and throwin’ away the key has only made our felony rates go up, has only made our overdose deaths go up, and has not created a safer community."

The Kane County Sheriff uses 44-year-old inmate John Fowler as an example. Fowler is a drug addict who has gone through rehabilitation, has learned job skills in county jail, and has begun a barber business in the jail. 

"He’s responsible for scheduling. He’s responsible for operations. He’s responsible for any income he generates from commissary funds," Sheriff Hain said.

The sheriff said there is maybe five-to-10 percent of his jail population that would be better off not in jail while awaiting trial. Some, like Fowler, had gone through drug rehab and learned job skills in the jail like how to operate a forklift and welding. Hain conducts job fairs in the jail and said he's received great feedback from potential employers about how well the inmates have interviewed for jobs.

"We’re identifying people who have been given zero opportunities, struggled with addiction throughout life, that have grouped them into the criminal culture," he said.

The sheriff said some might see his approach as “soft on crime,” but he said his 20-year law enforcement record shows otherwise.

As for John Fowler, he appeared in court Wednesday, and his case was continued. He did not have his $500,000 bail lowered and he was returned to his cell.

Fowler is charged with selling drugs and his high bond is the result of a criminal history that includes bank robbery.