$7M going toward non-violent offender program

CHICAGO – State officials Sunday announced $7 million more toward efforts to move nonviolent incarcerated offenders into community-based programs.

The 18 grants are going to 34 counties through Adult Redeploy Illinois, a program run by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, according to a news release Sunday.

“Community-based programs are more cost-effective and produce better results in rehabilitating nonviolent offenders,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement. “Everyone benefits when we can help offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society without filling up our prisons.”

Quinn’s office said that since 2011, the program has diverted more than 1,000 nonviolent offenders. State officials estimate in 2012 that the sites spent $4,400 per person versus approximately $21,500 per capita in incarceration costs.

Among those getting the most money are $1.5 million for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council, more than $640,000 for Winnebago County Circuit Court and more than $380,000 for the St. Clair County Probation Department.

A Quinn spokesman said Sunday that the money comes from the state’s general revenue fund.

A version of the program targeting juveniles was started in 2004. The idea was to help inmates turn away from crime while saving money.

Earlier this year, Quinn closed two major prisons to save money, something that an employees union tried to oppose with a lawsuit. Unions and prison employees fear unsafe working conditions. They claim the prisons are overcrowded, something state officials dispute.