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Champaign County Jail

The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office operates two adult jail facilities. The downtown Urbana site, built in 1980, has 113 beds and includes the Sheriff’s offices. The satellite facility, built in 1995, is located near the County’s Brookens Administration Building in east Urbana with a capacity for 182 beds. An increasing number of detainees require separation due to medical needs, mental health or other circumstances, which requires more cell spaces. The downtown facility will need significant renovation for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance (per notice from the Department of Justice), along with remediation of several health and safety concerns for continued occupancy. Currently, the Sheriff estimates that 24 separate beds are needed elsewhere if the downtown jail is to be vacated.

Because some County bonds used to build the jail will be paid off in January 2018, over $1 million will be freed up for other County uses. The 2018 County budget discussion has become heated about whether to use these funds to expand the satellite jail, to increase pre-trial and mental health services for those arrested (thus potentially eliminating the need for any jail expansion), or simply to discontinue the levy. As noted by the Community Justice Task Force and the Racial Justice Task Force, research has shown that more pre-trial and re-entry services can have a large positive impact on recidivism, thus potentially reducing the needed number of jail beds in the future. This impact is significant because over 85% of the Champaign County jail population is pre-trial. 

My Experience with Criminal Justice Issues

  •  Served as spokesperson for the 2013 Champaign County Community Justice Task Force
  • Oversaw the start-up of the Youth Assessment Center for juvenile diversion services in Champaign County
  • Managed a series of Federal grants that funded workforce development for re-entry populations
  • Consulted nationally for construction, renovation, or repurposing of incarceration facilities (including Cobb County Adult Detention Center, Ft. Leavenworth U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, State Prison of Southern Michigan, South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice)
  • Awarded Master’s degrees in social work, architecture, and city planning.

My Response as County Executive

  1.  Recommend vacating the Sheriff’s Office and downtown jail site due to its poor condition and sell the property to obtain funds for renovations to the satellite jail site that will accommodate Sheriff’s offices along with a more useful and safer layout of cells and meeting spaces.
  2. Use a portion of public safety taxes to implement, track, and evaluate recidivism reduction strategies, including ways to reduce pre-trial jail stays for non-violent offenders.
  3. Analyze the impact of facility consolidation on the Sheriff’s budget, and project the budget for at least six years for future budget planning. Use any cost savings of consolidation to develop community service options to reduce jail time.

Additional Information

  •  2017 IDOC Consolidated Inspection report:
  • Racial Justice Task Force:
  • Champaign County Community Justice Task Force Report 2013:
  • Sheriff’s Office Master Plan:
  • County Board Facilities Committee Meeting, August 8, 2017, Sheriff’s downtown site update:

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