My name is Walter Boyd and I am with Protestants for the Common Good. I work on policy and education as they pertain to mass incarceration, treatment alternatives and ex-offender reentry.
I am here to discuss the innovations that are part of the Crime Reduction Act (Public Act 96-0761), which became effective January 1st, designed to increase public safety and reduce costs to taxpayers.
- The Crime Reduction Act is based on the premise that crime can be reduced and the costs of the criminal justice system can be controlled by understanding and addressing the reasons why people commit crimes.
- It is also based on the premise that local jurisdictions know best what resources are necessary to reduce crime.
- In the current system, people cycle through a revolving door on jails and prisons. For example, Cook County Jail releases 98,000 people a year; 13,000-15,000 are in more than once. Each year on average, 47% of those released from the Illinois Department of Corrections serve six months or less in prison; more than 20% sent to prison for new crimes are locked up for 63 days or less. Processing costs are huge. Then these prisoners are back in our communities with no real treatment, a record, and few prospects other than more crime.
- The Illinois prison population continues to grow, with almost 50% confined for non-violent crimes. Statewide the largest number of prison admissions each year is for people convicted of Class 4 offenses, the least serious type of felony. The majority of Class 4 offenders are in prison on low-level drug possession charges.
- Many are substance addicted and/or mentally ill and, upon release, over half continue to commit crimes or violate conditions of parole and return to prison. Confining these individuals costs billions of dollars and does not reduce crime in the long run.
- It is estimated that the cost of imprisoning those convicted of non-violent drug offenses in Illinois is $250 million per year. There are a number of non-violent offenders being incarcerated at great cost to taxpayers who could be more effectively and efficiently supervised and served in the community – minimizing the risk to public safety, addressing their criminogenic needs, and leveraging their assets such as family support.
- The Crime Reduction Act establishes the Adult Redeploy Illinois program, which provides financial incentives to local jurisdictions that design community service plans to treat offenders in the community instead of sending them to state prisons. Grants are provided to counties/groups of counties/judicial circuits to increase programming in their areas, in exchange for reducing the number of people they send to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
- It also calls for a rigorous evaluation process with standardized performance measurements to confirm the effectiveness of the services in reducing crime.
- The Adult Redeploy Illinois program is an example of a national best practice called “performance incentive funding,” which other states are adopting in different ways.
- Adult Redeploy Illinois is based on the successful juvenile model which has been operating since 2004 with positive results. In the first three years of the juvenile Redeploy Illinois program, four pilot sites reduced the number of youth sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice by 51% which represents potential cost avoidance to the state of nearly $19 million had the youth been incarcerated.
- Results expected with Adult Redeploy Illinois include reduced prison overcrowding (based on other states’ experiences, with no increase in crime); lowered cost to taxpayers; an end to the expensive vicious cycle of crime and incarceration.
- An Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board – comprised of representatives from state agencies, local probation departments and community-based organizations, and co-chaired by the Director of the Department of Corrections and the Secretary of the Department of Human Services – is guiding the program’s development. I serve on the Oversight Board, which represents a public-private partnership dedicated to increasing alternatives to incarceration and building community capacity.
- Currently, the Oversight Board is working with local jurisdictions in a planning phase to assemble the key criminal justice stakeholders and develop local plans for an Adult Redeploy Illinois program. Following the planning phase, jurisdictions with plans approved by the Oversight Board will be invited to participate in a pilot site implementation starting in the summer/fall.
I applaud the General Assembly for courageously passing the Crime Reduction Act and creating the Adult Redeploy Illinois program. Community-based organizations like Protestants for the Common Good are counting on the General Assembly to support efforts like Adult Redeploy Illinois so that its promise of safer and healthier communities can be fulfilled.