Champaign County jail bookings show racial disparity over eight years

You are currently viewing Champaign County jail bookings show racial disparity over eight yearsDarrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette
One of the pods. Photos at the Champaign County satellite jail jail in east Urbana on Monday, March 11, 2013. File photo.

Black persons were booked at the Champaign County jail at least one and half times more than white persons over an eight-year period, according to a review of jail data by

There were a total of 49,535 jail bookings, which included multiple bookings of some individuals over the eight year period, which spanned from January 1, 2012 to March 11, 2020.

This data does not represent convictions or criminal records of persons in Champaign County, only jail bookings.

More than eight-in-ten jail bookings were Champaign County residents. Of the those 39,834 bookings of those residents, 57.9 percent were Black, while 34.5 percent were white. 

The racial disparity in arrests and subsequent bookings is even more stark when compared to the demographics of the county, in which Blacks make up 13.8 percent of the population and Whites make up 71.8 percent of the population, according to recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Census.

Other ethnicity numbers were:

  • Asian/Pacific Islander – 546 bookings
  • Native American – 46 bookings
  • Hispanic – 2,792 bookings
  • Unknown – 156 bookings

Other trends in bookings

The analysis of booking data also showed other trends. For example, nearly half of those booked, or 46.2 percent, had their occupation listed as unemployed. 

The downtown jail located at 204 East Main Street was designed to hold up to 131 inmates, and the satellite jail located at 502 South Lierman Avenue was designed to hold up to 182 inmates.

The jail system has been criticized for shortcomings in health care and infrastructure over the past decade. The latest plan to consolidate the two facilities into an upgraded facility, estimated to cost between $42 and $52 million, is still being discussed by the county board.

The majority of those booked were listed as single or unmarried people (divorced, separated, etc.). Nearly nine-of-ten people – 86.9 percent – booked in Champaign County jail were listed as single or unmarried. The designation single does not mean the person does not have a partner. 

At least one out of ten persons (11.5 percent) have been divorced, separated or widowed.      

In addition, the data show that males account for about three out of four bookings.   

But out of cities with at least 100 bookings, about 41 percent of those booked and listing Philo, Ill., as their address were women. Villa Grove, Ill., was a close second with about 37 percent of its 134 jail bookings as females.

There were 1,861 bookings of individuals that listed residency outside the United States. Mexico was the leader with almost half of those bookings: 902. Guatemala was second with 358 of the bookings.

The jail averaged over 16 bookings each day. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) bookings happened at least three times a day. Domestic battery, suspended or revoked driver’s license and theft were listed about twice a day.

As expected, Champaign, Urbana and Rantoul are the top three cities in jail bookings. Chicago led all non-Champaign County cities. Chicago zip codes account for 1,271 bookings.

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  1. Janet Marie Lunn

    So, it appears that the police, seek out individuals who are not working and maybe loitering on the street, or suffering from mental illness. It reflects that people who are employed travel to the area by car and return home daily and completing their work shifts are not arrested. Any one that appears to not have any directions in their lives are booked.
    This is my first small town experience and it also seems that those who have older vehicles are harassed.
    I hope that this decreases and people who are seeking a better way of life are giving a chance and not harassed on the street . There are a lot of homeless individuals that are booked quite often. I am glad that addresses are no longer posted, these individuals need privacy as well.