BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Crowding in the St. Clair County Jail is forcing the release of many of its prisoners.
As part of a program called "Cop Out," 20 prisoners who were accused of minor offenses were set free from the Belleville jail yesterday based on their time served after they pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors and public defenders coordinated the releases.
Sheriff Mearl Justus says the jail built to accommodate 330 prisoners has been crowded for years. There are now roughly 430 prisoners housed there, some sleeping on mattresses in the gymnasium.
Justus says there may be another release day next week as the recession delays the county's plans to expand the jail and boost bed space.