MORRISON – Compared to 2012, convictions in Whiteside County decreased in 2013 – but not by much, according to a report released by the state’s attorney’s office.
In 2013, the state obtained 2,438 convictions, compared to 2,607 in 2012 – a decrease of just 169, or about 6.5 percent.
The annual report, submitted by Whiteside County State’s Attorney Trish Joyce to the county board, is compiled by her office. Lee County, too, submits a similar report, but its most recent numbers haven’t yet been released.
While Whiteside County’s felony convictions dropped in 2013 to 482, from 621, the number of misdemeanor convictions and juvenile adjudications both rose. Traffic and DUI convictions remained about the same.
The number of people found not guilty also dropped in 2013.
“It’s just cyclical,” Joyce said. “For instance, I was looking today because I was doing a report for how many felonies we have filed, and last year at this time we had filed 100, and this year we’ve filed 127, so we’re on track for filing 500-and-some this year, which is more than last year and, I think, more than 2012.
“Some years are up; some years are down.”
Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi said the numbers could be deceiving.
“I really don’t think crime is down,” he said. “I think crime is up, but the type of criminals that we’re arresting now are taking a little longer to convict.
“I think the state’s attorney is doing a good job, and we’re working at it.”
2013 was Joyce’s first full year as Whiteside County’s state’s attorney. Before then, she was a private attorney as well as an assistant state’s attorney.
“I think that our staff has really jelled,” she said. “I think we have a good working relationship with the defense attorneys, and we certainly have a good relationship with the sheriff’s department and with the police departments. And we’re busy. ... But as I said, it’s very cyclical and my experience is that some years are a lot busier than other years.”