SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Illinois will receive $2 million in federal funds to support prisoner reentry initiatives.
In a recent Department of Justice news release, Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that the Illinois award was among 68 grants totaling $100 million to support efforts to ensure public safety and reduce victimization by helping returning offenders become productive members of their communities. Illinois was among 49 states receiving the funds.
"These federal funds will help us continue our progress in administering programs designed to rehabilitate individuals and to reduce crimes committed by prior felons," Governor Ryan said. " If we can give offenders an opportunity to finish their education and achieve employment, it is more likely they will not return to the activities that can lead to their return to corrections facilities."
The grants awarded by the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs are part of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, an unprecedented collaboration among the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor and Veteran Affairs.
"By educating and treating offenders, we are not only helping them improve their lives, we are reducing the chance they will return to crime and drug abuse," Ashcroft stated in the release. "My hope is that the reentry programs will improve public safety and reduce the burden on law enforcement and corrections."
IDOC's request for the $2 million grant will be used to implement the Illinois Going Home Program. This program will build on existing services provided by IDOC and other government agencies in partnership with the North Lawndale Employment Network, a network of community and faith-based providers who have been serving returning offenders for three years.
"This integrated system will provide various levels of reentry services to 200 offenders returning to the North Lawndale community in Chicago as well as to offenders returning to the neighboring communities of West Garfield, Austin and West Humboldt Park," Snyder said. "Program participants will include youth and young adults with violent tendencies or a high risk of recidivism. Initial steps will be taken to replicate this model in other Chicago communities with high concentrations of ex-offenders."
Snyder said the key to the program's success will be the use of newly formed transition teams, which will include IDOC parole officers, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) case managers and North Lawndale Employment Network staff. The transition teams will have contact with participants before they are released as well as access to all relevant information about each participant’s incarceration, assessments, and terms of release. The program participants will have access to an established network of services, including assessment, case management, cognitive restructuring, a voucher pool for treatment, transitional housing, employment training and placement assistance, and specialized youth services.
The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the state criminal justice planning agency, will coordinate a quasi-experimental evaluation which will track recidivism rates in three groups: a) high intensity group – those who will be receiving comprehensive formal services; b) moderate intensity group-those who will be receiving informal community support; and c) the “normal” transition group monitored by parole officers.
This program will promote the systematic build-up of state/community reentry systems through ongoing strategic planning and fund development. This will be accomplished by leveraging at least $948,000 in in-kind contributions from IDOC, Illinois Workforce Advantage, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, TASC, and the North Lawndale Employment Network.
"The Illinois Going Home Program grant application reflects Governor George Ryan’s commitment to public safety," Snyder said. "This commitment has allowed Illinois to become a leader in reintegrating ex-offenders into the community."
Under his administration, Ryan has doubled the number of parole agents from 183 to 366, and helped modernize the way they work to enable them to spend more time on the streets where they are most effective. Futures for Kids, the Governor’s children’s policy agenda, has identified juvenile justice as a major policy initiative, increasing substance abuse treatment services for youth in IDOC and the community court system, and increasing mental health screening and services for youth being released from the juvenile justice system.
Also, in an effort to revitalize the highest need communities, the governor created the Illinois Workforce Advantage. This place-based initiative targets the Chicago community areas of North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Englewood and Little Village for targeted infusions of state and local resources to improve the overall community.