Rockford, Winnebago County to bankroll program to deter crime from released prisoners

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Reducing crime and recidivism among recently released convicts is a focus of a proposed project between the City of Rockford and Winnebago County.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says the Focused Deterrence Reentry Program (FDRP) addresses high risk offenders returning to Winnebago County after their time in prison, and believes the program is a priority for public safety.

“The violence that we’re seeing right now is just not acceptable,” McNamara said, pointing to a rise in violent crime over the last year. “We need more services for those [offenders] returning to our community, to get the assistance they need to get them back on their feet. If that’s drug and alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, if that’s housing, if that’s reconnecting with their family or faith, or connecting with employment, they need to get those services.”

Similar programs have existed over the years and seen success, but once funding ran out, the services ended.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Jo Chiarelli said, “The county, city and community successfully worked together in the last iteration of this program, and there were no new bookings for 64% of the participants involved in the program.”

If the re-entry program is approved, the County would allocate $400,000 in grants over the next four years, matched by the City.

“I think this program has a great opportunity to bring those families together and get the services these individuals need, so that they are welcomed back to our city, and that they are productive when they come back,” McNamara said.

Funding for the program has been approved in a committee, and the City Council and County Board are expected to vote on it next week.

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