Expanding Adult Redeploy could mean millions in savings for Illinois prisons

Expanding Adult Redeploy could mean millions in savings for Illinois prisons

Adult Redeploy has already saved Illinois nearly $50 million. Expanding it would save millions more.

Drug addiction is a serious public-health and criminal-justice issue. Changing how Illinois deals with drug addicts – by diverting them to alternative programs instead of defaulting to incarceration – increases the likelihood that these offenders won’t end up back in the system. Such reforms also save taxpayers money.

One such program that already exists in Illinois is Adult Redeploy. This program provides funding incentives for counties to create alternative programs, such as drug or mental-health treatment, where nonviolent offenders can receive targeted care instead of going to state prison.

The rationale behind Adult Redeploy is straightforward: By investing money in community corrections programs that treat the drug or mental-health challenges of prospective inmates, the state can avoid more costly expenditures on prison.

Each program’s effectiveness is considered successful if it: reduces prison overcrowding, lowers costs to taxpayers and decreases recidivism rates. Once a county has reached these goals it is awarded a portion of the savings from the state. This new funding is then reinvested in strengthening alternatives to prison and in further reducing recidivism.

Adult Redeploy began as a pilot program in 2010, through a combination of state funding and a federal grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which ended in 2013. After the grant expired, Illinois devoted $2 million for the program in fiscal year 2013 and $7 million in fiscal year 2014.

The program has proved a great success, saving the state’s corrections department an estimated $46.8 million between January 2011 and December 2014 by diverting 2,025 nonviolent offenders who otherwise would have served time in state prison, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

Despite the program’s promise, there are aspects of Adult Redeploy that need to be expanded and improved. Each year, on average, nearly 13,000 offenders who appear to be eligible for diversion programs are committed to the Illinois Department of Corrections, or IDOC. However, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, in recent years, of these 13,000 offenders, only about 1,000 have participated in such programs each year. And right now the program is optional – it has only been enacted in 39 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The state should make every effort to incentivize other counties to join.

A forthcoming Illinois Policy research report recommends that Illinois increase annual participation in Adult Redeploy by 25 percent over the participation level of 2013 – or aim to divert at least 1,594 individuals per year. If Illinois can reach this goal, the state could potentially save about $27.4 million of its prison budget in a year.

Programs such as Adult Redeploy will be key to reorienting Illinois’ justice system to directly treat the root causes of crime instead of simply warehousing offenders. The better Illinois uses its limited fiscal resources, the more the state can return to taxpayers – and focus corrections funds on those who pose a real threat to public safety.

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