03/20/2013 05:35 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

Cook County Jail Overcrowded By Summer? Just 8 Inmates Shy Of Limit, Sheriff Preps For 'Crisis'

For Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, eight is (more than) enough.

Dart said as of Wednesday, the county jail is just eight inmates away from full capacity, reports CBS Chicago.

"My overtime budget is just absolutely exploding,” said Dart, who is concerned the jail will be "in crisis mode come June."

Already, the prison is "bursting at the seams" in a period that's supposed to be the slow season before the summertime crime spike.

The booming jail population is due to an uptick in arrests thanks to the Chicago Police Department's crime crackdown initiatives, but the Sun-Times reports the jail population is also swelling due to slow turnover as inmates wind through the justice system.

Adding to the ballooning number of those in lockup: Fewer suspects being released with electronic monitoring devices.

As the county board’s legislative committee is expected to take up the crowding issue at a hearing Tuesday, 13th District Commissioner Larry Suffredin told Fox Chicago:

"We cannot jeopardize public safety, and I think what the County Board is saying to both the Sheriff and the Chief Judge is there's got to be a solution here. We know you just can't keep arresting people and having the jail expand and expand and expand."

The sheriff's office lists the jail's daily capacity at roughly 9,000, while CBS and others report it stands at 10,000, with the population at 9,992 as of March 20.

Once the jail reaches capacity, inmates must be shipped to other counties for incarceration in order to comply with a federal ruling that the prison cannot hold more inmates than it has allotted beds.



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