Public uncertain about jail consolidation

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign County Board had its first of several discussions on consolidating the county’s jails Thursday evening. They’re looking to combine the two sites: one in downtown Urbana and the satellite jail on Lierman Avenue.

Members of the Champaign County Facilities Committee agreed earlier this month keeping both locations operational is too expensive. But people during public comment Thursday night spoke against the idea of building a new jail. They said the money would be better spent on keeping people out of jail.

Cunningham Township Supervisor Danielle Chynoweth was one of those people. She said there needs to be a discussion about who needs to be behind bars.

“How can I work with you to keep folks, and how can my cohort across Wright Street work with you to keep our participants, who basically are involved with crimes of poverty and extreme deprivation out of jail so that you don’t have to spend $10, $25, $50 million incarcerating people,” said Chynoweth.

The architect for the proposed facility said it would cost between $42 million and $52 million to build everything on the county jail wishlist, but board members said they can pick and choose what they want for the facility.

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