Winnebago County Inmates to go On-line Wednesday

Starting tomorrow you'll be able to search for inmates in the Winnebago County Jail, without making a phone call.

As the sheriff's office puts that information on its web site.

From now on whenever someone is booked into the Winnebago County Jail, their mug shot, accused crimes, and next court date will be posted on the sheriff's web site.

It's an effort to ease the search for information and free up corrections officers.

"If an officer is not on the phone trying to answer the questions that the public has, there's a whole lot of other things, booking, bonding, security, maximum security, a whole lot of other things that that officer, he or she can be doing."

Sheriff Richard Meyers says the jail's population has increased to a consistent one thousand inmates each month. And his staff is handling that increase with 28 fewer guards. So he says it's a no brainer to put state required information on the web.

"There's no sense in making it difficult to obtain."

The new web database will provide basic information about who's in the jail. What they're charged with. And whether they can be bonded out.

"First of all it's a matter of public information is somebody's been arrested, it's quite easy for us as defense attorneys to locate people, if we can go online and see if they are indeed in custody."

Federal Public Defender Paul Gaziano says it can be difficult to find out where a friend or loved one is being held. Because the officer arresting a suspect is not typically the same jailing a suspect.

"I don't know how many people know that the jail is run by the county sheriff, but if you have to go to Winnebago County Jail on their web site, and find the population, I don't think that's a problem."

And the sheriff says crime victims will benefit from the online information. A link under each inmate will allow a victim to register for a notice service.

"When somebody goes to get released, it will automatically notify them that they're being released from the jail, so it makes it easier for the public to sign up for that kind of safeguard."

An inmate's information will be automatically removed from the web site once they're released.

And the sheriff will still have the ability to hide a picture of an inmate if that would harm an ongoing investigation.

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