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State Budget Woes Are Killing A Program That Helps Juvenile Offenders

By Mae Rice in News on Dec 22, 2015 8:49PM

Photo credit: Ann Hilton Fisher

Redeploy Illinois, one of the state’s most effective programs for turning around juvenile offenders’ lives, is running out of funding due to Illinois’ non-existent budget, WBEZ reports.

That means that in 26 Illinois counties, juvenile offenders who would typically be siphoned into the cost-effective program are heading to jail, according to WBEZ. Though Redeploy is still operational in Cook County, officials are reviewing whether it can continue here.

Open to juvenile offenders who have not committed a murder or a felony, Redeploy replaces conventional jail time with a more holistic investment in kids’ prospects. The program can offer kids therapy, mentoring, drug counseling, and in some cases, 24-hour supervision.

What’s more, the program encompasses all of that while saving the government money. On average, Redeploy cost $5,912 per kid in 2014, compared to the $111,000 per-head price of juvenile incarceration, according to state figures.

A preliminary study of four Redeploy sites also found that recidivism rates were roughly 15 percent for participants, compared to more than 50 percent for non-participants, the program's site reports.

But when funding is restored, John Johnson, the head of juvenile probation in Winnebago county, told WBEZ it won’t be so easy to get the program restarted.

"We’ve already lost staff, so it’s almost like re-starting the program all over again,” he said.