Reform proposals mirror local efforts

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Along with three pieces of legislation, Governor Bruce Rauner’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission has also proposed five executive measures to reduce the state’s prison population.

Those five measures are:

  • Expediting the use of risk and needs assessment tools by the Illinois Department of Corrections.
  • Establishing a coordinating council to help state and local governments share information.
  • Requiring state agencies to evaluate the criminal justice programs they fund, eliminating those that don’t work and expanding those that do.
  • Allow and encourage the Department of Corrections to use alternatives to incarceration for offenders with less than a one year stay.
  • Introduce and expand rehabilitative programming, including behavioral therapy and substance  abuse treatment.

The last two measures reflect programs already underway at the local level, such as Macon County’s DUI/Drug Hybrid Court and its Mental Health Court, which organizers say provide alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system for nonviolent offenders.

According to information provided by the county, of 44 people who graduated the DUI/Drug Hybrid Court before July 2015, only two have since been charged with a new crime. The county also estimates that these alternative courts cost about $260 per participant per month, while incarceration in a state prison costs about $1,744 per month.

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