Each of the 102 counties in the state of Illinois has a sheriff elected to a four-year term. Duties include serving warrants, preventing crime and maintaining public safety, supervising deputies and other staff, operating the jail (if the county has one), maintaining security of the local courts, collecting fees for judgements, and maintaining records, warrants, and criminal history information. Sheriffs also serve as the county Supervisor of Safety, under Illinois law. This position receives an annual salary from the county that is independent of the sheriff’s salary. Each sheriff is annually required to receive a minimum of 20 hours of training approved by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.
Although the sheriff has jurisdiction over the entire county, most sheriff’s departments tend to operate largely in the rural areas of a county, leaving law enforcement within city limits in the hands of the municipal police. Some cities contract with the sheriff’s department for services.
Many sheriff’s departments have a website; links to these can be found through the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association. This directory also offers contact information as well as directions to the jail, when the county has one. You may get additional information by locating the page for the appropriate county on this website. Some sheriffs’ websites have a prisoner lookup tool or list of current inmates, along with information such as arrest date, charges, expected release date, and sometimes a photo.
Most of the counties have a single detention facility. An exception is Champaign County, which has a total of 308 beds in two facilities. Cook County, which includes Chicago, has its detention center at only one site. With a capacity of 10,000 inmates, it is one of the largest such facilities in the United States. At least 6 counties with smaller populations have no jail; instead they contract with a neighboring county for jail services. An example is Union County in southern Illinois, which contracts with Jackson County to its north. At the southern tip of the state, Alexander, Johnson, and Pulaski counties share a facility, the 236-bed Tri County Jail located in Ullin in Pulaski County. Other than the huge jail in Cook County, jails range in size from the 1,212-bed facility in Winnebago County, on the state’s northern border, to the tiny 2-bed jail in rural Calhoun County, which has a population of only 5,300.
The largest sheriff’s department is that of Cook County. It is the second largest sheriff’s department in the United States, with over 6,900 employees serving the county’s more than 5.3 million residents, over 110,000 of whom live in unincorporated areas of the county surrounding the city of Chicago and its suburbs. This huge organization is divided into fourteen departments. In addition to departments of corrections, communications, courts, training, women’s justice services , and youth services, the sheriff’s department has several divisions focusing on specific needs. The Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center provides non-violent offenders with a 4-month detention program based on strict discipline, education, counseling, and alcohol/substance abuse treatment. The patrol officers operate under the Sheriff’s Police Department. In addition, the departments include Reentry and Diversion, Senior Services, Audit and Inspection Unit, Office of Mental Health Policy and Advocacy, Office of Peer Support, and Office of Professional Review.