Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bryant Jackson-Green — Illinois could see $300 million in savings through criminal-justice transformation

The governor has proposed criminal-justice reforms to save Illinois taxpayers $300 million over the next four years while improving outcomes for offenders and their communities.

(Illinois Policy)

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 2017 budget outlines plans to right-size the state’s criminal-justice system and help taxpayers avoid $300 million in costs over the next four years by redirecting resources away from incarceration and toward rehabilitative tools. Increasing judicial discretion, improving access to mental health treatment at prisons, and expanding educational and work-training options are a few highlights of the governor’s proposed reforms.

The governor’s report outlines some of the problems that have plagued Illinois’ criminal-justice system in recent years:

“Over the past five years, the Illinois prison population has reached a record high of nearly 50,000 inmates making the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) one of the most overcrowded prison systems in the country. IDOC’s population of offenders at June 30, 2015 was 47,165. The department’s rated capacity or number of offenders that can safely be housed in its institutions is 32,084. IDOC is operating at 147 percent of rated capacity, with most offenders sentenced for non-violent crimes.”
As Illinois’ prison populations increase, so do costs. The Illinois Department of Corrections, or IDOC, directly pays about $21,600 per inmate, largely from the general-funds budget. But when costs falling outside the system – including employee health care, benefits and pensions, and capital expenses – are factored in, the total rises to $38,268 per inmate, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan criminal-justice research foundation.

Read the full article HERE.