JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow said he’s “not done fighting” at the local level to secure critical funding for his office’s Adult Redeploy Illinois program.
The County Executive Committee last week rejected a $75,000 as-needed monthly loan request to keep afloat the prison diversion program amid Illinois’ budget crisis.
The state owes the ARI program more than $220,000 in grant dollars.
“The County Board is supposed to be the guardian of taxpayer dollars, and they’ve made it clear they’re not going to do the state’s work,” Glasgow said Friday. “The problem is it’s not only our office asking for money.”
Glasgow said he has reached out to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office to see if there’s a chance of pushing legislation that would fund ARI court programs statewide.
“Rauner’s office promised they would fund ARI,” Glasgow said, referring to the Republican governor’s mention of the Adult Redeploy Illinois program in his first State of the State address and his initiative to reduce the state’s prison population 25 percent by 2025.
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont, is behind Senate Bill 3418 – an appropriations bill for ARI courts and other social services that’s tied to enactment of pension reform.
Given the political climate in Springfield, the bill’s passage is uncertain. And the money’s availability is tied to Illinois passing a pension fix that passes constitutional muster.
Since the ARI program’s inception statewide in 2011, more than 2,100 nonviolent offenders have been diverted from prison, according to a 2014 ARI Oversight Board annual report.
“The average annual ARI intervention cost is estimated at $4,400; the average annual cost of prison is $21,500. From January 2011 to December 2014, there has been about $46.5 million in potential cost savings to the state by providing local supervision and services instead of sending these individuals to prison,” the report stated.
Participants in the ARI court program receive an intense combination of counseling, treatment, community service and career training.
The alternative is prison.
“Some of these people have had a hard life, they’ve never had a break,” Glasgow said. “And [ARI court] is sometimes the first break they get.”
Specialty Court Coordinator Julie McCabe-Sterr late last year shifted about $200,000 in her budget from her drug court program to ARI to help fill the gap. But there’s only so much money to go around.
The county’s other specialty court programs – such as veterans, mental health and drug courts – are being affected as well due to the ARI funding shortfall, Glasgow said.
McCabe-Sterr was unavailable for comment Friday.