SPRINGFIELD – At a time when the state has reached its highest recidivism rate in history of 54 percent, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proposed today a budget for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) that highlights smart investments designed to reduce crime by strengthening law enforcement supervision of parolees as well as enhancing prevention programs to move offenders toward responsible alternatives to crime and drugs.
The expansion of Sheridan Correctional Center as a national model drug prison and re-entry program, as well as the Governor’s aggressive parole reform plan, “Operation Spotlight,” highlights the recidivism reduction initiatives in the Department of Corrections budget for Fiscal Year 2005.
In addition, the department’s budget reflects a continued emphasis on frontline staff to protect and control inmates in all facilities. Key budget initiatives of replacing outdated facilities by bringing modern and more efficient, and treatment-oriented facilities fully online also serve as the foundation to the agency’s budget.
The recommended FY05 General Funds budget totals $1.17 billion, a decrease of $92.1 million from FY04 appropriation. The difference includes a staff reduction of 376 positions through closures and standardizing operating functions throughout the agency.
“We are at a time when trending shows that over half of the inmates we release from prison will be re-incarcerated within three years after committing new crimes, finding new victims or violating parole, the agency’s budget is committed to the success of the governor’s new initiatives of deterring crime and reducing recidivism,” said Corrections Director Roger E. Walker, Jr. “In particular, our budget expands supervision over parolees and targets the core cause of repeat offenses, such as drugs, through programs such as Sheridan drug prison and Operation Spotlight reform parole plan. The budget also reflects tough fiscal decisions that
address improved efficiency through consolidating the management of operations and further streamlining the structure of the agency.
Key initiatives in the Governor’s proposal for the Department of Corrections include:
· The Sheridan drug prison and Re-entry Program: Sheridan will receive $25.5 million to provide full year funding for staffing and operations for the 1,300-bed substance abuse treatment facility. The hiring of additional parole staffing through “Operation Spotlight” will cost $6.4 million. As drugs are a leading cause of repeat offending in Illinois, the Sheridan Drug Prison & Reentry program seeks to become a national model for community crime reduction. Sheridan will be the largest fully dedicated, state drug prison and re-entry program of its kind in the nation. The program provides accountability-based, best practices drug treatment in the prison, and an intensive re-entry component upon release that involves both tough law enforcement supervision and community-based partnerships upon release. Through tighter supervision, law enforcement and their partners will work to move parolees away from crime and drugs and toward honest jobs and accountability. Sheridan prison will have 1,300 beds, dedicated to substance abuse treatment. It is estimated that approximately 600-800 inmates will be released onto parole and community supervision annually.
· Replacing outdated facilities by bringing newer facilities fully online: In FY05, IDOC will fully bring online Lawrence Correctional Center to provide new, state-of-the-art housing for nearly 900 inmates. Opening unused wings of Lawrence Correctional Center will replace the Vandalia facility, which was opened in 1921, shifting the population to Lawrence and other similar facilities. Lawrence Correctional Center will be fully opened at a cost of $5.1 million. Illinois Youth Center-Kewanee, a special treatment facility for youths, will also fully open at a total of $2.5 million.
· Opening of Greene County Work Camp: The Greene County Work Camp, a satellite of the Jacksonville Correctional Center, will provide opportunities for 200 inmates in their final six to 12 months of incarceration to prepare for their return to the community by performing work to support municipalities and park districts, among others. Job placement programs are a proven way to reduce crime and recidivism, and the goal of this program is to prepare these inmates for honest employment upon release from prison. Funding for the operations at the Greene County Work Camp will be increased by $2.9 million to operate for a full year.
· Operation Spotlight – Strengthening Supervision of Parolees: With near record numbers of parolees being released into Illinois communities from prison, the Governor’s “Operation Spotlight” parole reform initiative seeks to improve supervision and provide agents with the tools to move parolees away from crime and recidivism. Through Operation Spotlight, the number of parole agents on the street will double from 370 to 740 over a four-year period. Increased agents will help improve supervision and monitoring of parolees, as well as allow the department to better target higher risk populations. An added focus on community reentry, included emphasis on accountability and job placement, will be implemented with the goal of ultimately reducing crime and recidivism. The budget calls for hiring 102 new parole agents, seven parole supervisors and six casework supervisors as the second wave of the governor’s Operation Spotlight.
Also as part of “Operation Spotlight,” the department will detail parole agents with special training and smaller caseloads to provide more intensive supervision over sex offenders upon their release from prison. The work of this new sex offender team will be further enhanced by the addition of a new 10-member surveillance unit that will be called in for assistance with monitoring and tracking the most high-risk cases. In addition, $12 million has been added to the department’s budget to provide enhanced assessment and treatment services for sex offenders. Funding for sex offender treatment will cover costs associated with Public Act 93-0616.
- Improved treatment capacity for juveniles: The department will open an additional 180 treatment beds at IYC-Kewanee, which partially opened in 2001. The facility specializes in serving youth in the correctional system with mental health or substance abuse issues-constituting vast majority of the youth involved in the juvenile justice system. This permits the department to better serve the youth and to close IYC-St. Charles, which opened in 1904. In addition, the department will work with the Department of Human Services and other partners to implement "Redeploy Illinois." This legislation (PA 93-0641) reallocates resources toward community-based alternatives for nonviolent juveniles who would otherwise be sentenced to prison. Initial focus will be on finding alternatives to sentencing nonviolent youth to prison for mental health evaluations. The Department of Human Services has $4.5 million allocated in FY05 to establish these community-based alternatives.
The department will also improve efficiency in several key operating areas. Examples include centralizing human resource and business office functions and standardizing clerical support ratios. Administrative functions of all adult transition centers also will be assigned to the existing administration of correctional facilities.
The FY05 budget also reflects facility closings of two older facilities. The 83-year-old Vandalia Correctional Center and Work Camp will close at a savings of $32.5 million. It’s expected that many of the displaced Vandalia employees will likely be absorbed into other areas of the Department of Corrections. Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles, which opened in 1904, also will close at a savings of $11.7 million in FY05.
“Despite the fiscal challenges and closing of some facilities, the agency will not compromise the safety and security of its operations,” said Walker. “The programs that are in place serve our strategic priorities of reducing recidivism, enhancing youthful offender services in the community and improving inmate and staff safety and security. The agency is committed toward fiscal discipline in the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.”