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Letter: Jail situation a symptom of mismanagement

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014 8:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:24 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The continuing debacle known as the DeKalb County Jail is a vivid example of poor leadership and an ongoing disaster for the taxpayer. 

We currently spend approximately $1 million per year shipping inmates to other counties because of the present overcrowding of our correctional facility. Imagine that: Programs in our neighboring counties are being funding by your tax dollars. What good neighbors we are.

Years ago, we approved a mega dump that instantly devalued the real estate in Cortland.  We were told the funding from this environmental dice roll would fund a new jail. But first we were deceived into believing we needed an expanded courthouse. 

Incumbency and ego propelled this foolish idea to fruition. We spent over $20 million to add space to our historic courthouse when there was never a compelling argument presented that it was actually needed. I invite you to visit the expanded facility any afternoon and decide for yourself whether its empty halls are a worthy investment of your tax dollars.

A reasonable approach might have been to close the dump, forgo the courthouse expansion and build a new jail.  It would have saved us millions of dollars that we might have spent trying to keep heroin and methamphetamine out of our county. We might have spent it pursuing the sex offenders that roam our Internet. These investments in making our county safer might actually have been the answer to reversing the declining enrollment at Northern Illinois University. But they were not to be.

Illinois has a nationwide reputation for corrupt government. At the heart of this problem is public officials who have utter disdain for the public good. We elect them year after year, mostly out of habit, I think. 

The problem is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, as we are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. In the meantime, our local officials plod on, with fat salaries, benefits, and jobs aplenty for their friends and relatives. Exhibit A: DeKalb County government.    

Clay Campbell


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