SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner's shout-out to the Adult Redeploy Illinois program in last week's State of the State address did not go unnoticed by Julie McCabe-Sterr, who is leading the creation of Will County's program.
“He gave it a big high-five,” said McCabe-Sterr, a drug court officer with the Will County State’s Attorney’s office.
Rauner made it clear during his speech Wednesday that Illinois would continue investing money in the ARI program, which aims to divert nonviolent offenders from prison and into community services.
The shout-out came on the heels of the newly sworn in Republican governor issuing an executive order halting all state discretionary spending, including the awarding of contracts and grants.
A week prior to the order, McCabe-Sterr announced to the Will County Board's Finance Committee that the county was a recent recipient of a $151,000 startup grant, only to later hear Rauner had put all unsigned contracts on hold.
“We were never really super nervous, but yes, we were concerned,” said McCabe, who had already hired two mental health professionals, a part-time data collection employee and a part-time outreach employee in anticipation of receiving the grant money.
McCabe said she received word last week from ARI that they had been "given the green light" from Rauner to release the grant money.
The ARI program has demonstrated significant cost savings while reducing pressure on the state's prison system, according to a 2012 ARI report. It costs roughly $21,500 per year to house an inmate in the state's Department of Corrections, whereas the average cost per ARI participant is $2,233, according to the report.
McCabe-Sterr said the grant requires Will County put at least 33 people through the program. The grant is good through June 30. Later this month, she will resubmit a streamlined grant for a continuation for the next year, she said.
Since the program’s 2011 implementation, ARI has diverted more than 1,900 offenders into community-based programming, Rauner said during his State of the State address.