Progress in Georgia, and the People Agree

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Gov. Pat Quinn announced a doubling of anti-violence program in his budget address/Photo by Gage Skidmore

Written by James Swift and Eric Ferkenhoff

During his Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Address - in which Gov. Pat Quinn announced sharp cuts to education that worried many teachers and youth workers – there was a bit of good news on the juvenile front. Quinn, battling massive pension problems and a fiscal situation that can’t seem to stop bleeding, looks to boost funding for the anti-violence and youth-engagement program Redeploy Illinois.

The program, which is statewide under the Bureau of Youth Intervention Services, is expected to see its coffers swell, more than doubling to $4.9 million for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget proposal still faces the legislative back-and-forth. But according to literature on the Redeploy, it is designed as a youth deterrent targeted at those “between the ages of 13 and 18 who are at high risk of being committed to the Department of Corrections.”

It comes at a time of high crime in Chicago and Cook County, which has generated much national and even international attention – even bringing President Obama to town to discuss the violence in his hometown. But Quinn’s proposal also following reports that youth incarceration rates across most regions of the country have dropped, and sharply; among those states seeing a fall-off in confinements was Illinois, where the rate slid about 36 percent over a several-year period studied by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In 2010, a cost benefit analysis of Redeploy found that the program’s sites, on average, saw nearly half of their commitments decline, saving the state more than $9 million as a result. Much of the savings has been attributed to lower incarceration costs and a shrinking confinement population.

2011 assessment, meanwhile, found that just 17 percent of young people that completed Redeploy services were re-arrested, while almost three-quarters of young people involved in the juvenile-justice system — within the same counties — and not enrolled in the Redeploy program were re-arrested during the same study period.

Earlier this week, Illinois Chief of Staff Jerry Stermer also said that the budget for the state’s Adult Redeploy program is expected to increase by $5 million for FY 2014, while the juvenile justice side is expected to get a $2.5 million bump.

“Through targeted investments in programs like this,” Gov Quinn said, “we are doing our part to tackle the violence epidemic in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.”

Stay tuned for more Chicago Bureau and JJIE coverage on this issue Monday.

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