Rockford’s law enforcement agencies have repeatedly stated that a big part of the city’s crime problem are repeat offenders.
But now the state is working to change that, including Winnebago County’s top prosecutor.
“We all can agree on is that the criminal justice system needs to be reformed so that it is more effective,” says Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, talking about a newly released report from the Illinois state Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.
The 94 page report contains 27 recommendations to reduce recidivism, which in Illinois is roughly 50%.
“In Illinois, the rate of recidivism is unacceptably high,” said Bruscato. “The number of people that are leaving prison, getting out, and within a short period of time are repeat offenders is unacceptably high.”
Bruscato is also a board member of Adult Redeploy Illinois, a program that effectively rehabilitates offenders to reduce their likelihood to repeat.
He says Winnebago County’s Adult Redeploy is only $5,000-but imprisoning offenders costs taxpayers $25,000 a year, making programs like it across the state a lot more cost effective.
“The goal of the commission is to bring about cost effective reforms that are designed for us to get better outcomes than we are currently getting.”
And on Tuesday, the Illinois senate passed a bill to provide money for incentives for inmates, including little or no jail time if they agree to rehabilitation programs.
“We’re a compassionate society here in America and in the state of Illinois,” said Governor Bruce Rauner. “We believe that people make mistakes but they deserve redemption and an opportunity to improve themselves and become productive positive citizens.”
Other recommendations include not putting criminals with shorter sentences in prison at all, reducing prison sentences for crimes like auto theft, and certain drug crimes, and giving judges more discretion to sentence some offenders to probation.
The governor has set a goal of both reducing crime and the state’s prison population by 25% percent over the next five years.
You can click here to take a look at the full report.