Group: Budget crisis hurts public safety

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SPRINGFIELD-Illinois’ budget stalemate is putting public safety at risk by limiting social services and programs to keep at-risk youth away from crime, according to a group of prosecutors and police leaders.

The group was made up of members of a bipartisan organization called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids that finds and shares research-based methods of keeping kids from becoming criminals.

Group members cited four programs which have been reduced or eliminated in many communities because of the state’s budget crisis. Among them:

  • Redeploy Illinois, a program that pays for counties to find alternatives to juvenile detention. The group reports that more than half of participating counties have left the program, a change they estimate affects 275 youth.
  • Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services, a program that helps runaway children and children considered to be beyond their parents’ control. The group reports more than half of local programs have cut staff or services.
  • Teen REACH, an after-school program meant to keep kids off the streets during high-crime periods. The group estimates more than 1,000 children no longer have access to the program.

Members of the group said they did not have any specific suggestions for how to fix the budget crisis, but they said they hoped their information added urgency to the debate.

“These are real people, these are real kids that are going to wind up not just in the Department of Juvenile Justice, but we know when they aren’t receiving Redeploy, there’s a good chance they’re going to end up in the Department of Corrections,” said St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.

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