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Rehabilitating Offenders

By Sean Stillmaker in Miscellaneous on May 23, 2010 9:00PM

Photo by reallyboring
Illinois prisons have 40,000 offenders entering and leaving each year, exceeding rated capacity. However, there has been a slight decrease in repeat offenders coming back into the system. The recidivism rate in 2009 was 51.3 percent, down from 54.4 in 2003, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections annual report. One of the reasons has been Illinois’ commitment to criminal rehabilitation. The Illinois Crime Reduction Act of 2009 setup rehabilitation programs with the help of $6 million in federal stimulus funds.

Adult Redeploy 2010 is one of them. The program allows offenders convicted of minor crimes that are eligible for probation to bypass prisons and begin the rehabilitation process in the community. “Prison is counterproductive,” for low risk offenders, Rep. William Burns (D-Chicago) told Chicagotalks.

Communities can provide more assistance to an ex-offender than prison rehabilitation programs said Lindsay Bostwick, a research analyst for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Craig Canser, 48, has been in and out of prisons for a third of his life for crimes ranging from drug dealing to armed robbery. “Your past always seems to haunt you,” Canser told Chicagotalks. In 2007 he started rehabilitation at St. Leonard’s Ministries, an outlet of Adult Redeploy 2010. Since then he has gotten a job at the Chicago Medical Examiner’s Office and received his barber’s license.

One goal of Adult Redeploy is to cut prison expenses by as much as 25 percent, but it's one of many programs across the state in danger because of the state's budget situation.