Inside Out: A Plan to Reduce Recidivism and Improve Public Safety

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Inside Out: A Plan to Reduce Recidivism and Improve Public Safety




One of the focal areas is Champaign County.

Executive Summary:
Communities in Illinois and nationwide are reeling from a revolving criminal justice
door. The cycle of crime, punishment, and reoffending is a major public safety
issue, and without intervention is bound to accelerate if recidivism rates remain at
near record highs and record numbers continue to be released from state prison.
Illinois’s prison population more than doubled from 1988 through 2001, largely due
to incarceration rates among drug-involved offenders. Without positive intervention,
more than one-half of the record nearly 40,000 inmates estimated to be released from
state prisons this fiscal year will be back in prison within three years—after committing
new crimes, finding new victims, or violating their parole. No one knows this better
than the families in the hardest hit communities in Illinois. In 2005, the vast majority
(82%) of the formerly incarcerated returned to just ten regions in the state. These
communities also suffer some of the highest poverty and crime rates. Therefore, in
addition to increased risk of becoming a crime victim, residents of these communities
are losing family members to the vicious cycle of drugs, crime, and incarceration.
The family, community, and statewide toll of crime is only compounded when a formerly
incarcerated individual, lacking supports and jobs, commits another crime and returns
to prison. When Governor Rod Blagojevich was first elected, he announced that his
administration would spearhead a comprehensive public safety initiative to roll back
the state’s recidivism rate, which had been climbing for more than a decade, standing
in 2004 at over 54 percent, a historic high. In other words, for every two inmates
released, one committed another crime and returned to prison, likely within a year of
release. The costs of this revolving door of incarceration to the community and to the
state—which spent $3 billion over 16 years, primarily in the 1990s, to build, operate,
repair, and maintain new state prisons and expand their capacity—are simply too high
to sustain. Funds are far better spent breaking this vicious cycle than supporting it.
Under Governor Blagojevich’s leadership, the state has taken strong steps to stem this flood,
including instituting several innovative programs, such as the Sheridan National Model Drug
Prison and Reentry Program (which aims to be the largest state prison and comprehensive
reentry program in the nation dedicated to inmates with substance abuse issues; the program
focuses its efforts both in prison and during a highly supervised and supported return to
the community) and Operation Spotlight Parole Reform Initiative (a long-term plan to
dramatically increase the number of parole agents, improve case management, tighten parole
supervision to emphasize risk reduction and expand community-based resources that help
reduce crime). These efforts are seeing early, promising results. Among graduates of the
Sheridan Program within its first two years, recidivism rates were nearly 40 percent lower
than comparison groups. In addition, the Operation Spotlight Initiative has already helped to
reduce new crimes among all of the state’s parolees to the lowest levels in state history. In part,
thanks to these and other initiatives, the state’s overall three-year recidivism rate has declined
to 51 percent. However, much more remains to be done to maintain the momentum.


Community Safety and Reentry Working Group, Illinois Department of Corrections


ca. 2008

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Community Safety and Reentry Working Group, Illinois Department of Corrections, "Inside Out: A Plan to Reduce Recidivism and Improve Public Safety," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #208, https://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/208 (accessed June 23, 2024).

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File: Governor's Reentry Commission Report FINAL.pdf