Framework & Agenda
The Vera Institute of Justice recently calculated the cost of prison to Illinois taxpayers at $38,268 annually per inmate,* a figure significantly higher than the $22,043 figure offered by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Illinois spends an extraordinary amount on corrections, and yet a full half of the people released from state prisons return within three years. The State is facing unprecedented and worsening fiscal realities in every domain. For criminal justice policy, now is a time of both great opportunity and risk.
Despite their potential to reduce State costs, resources that would allow the state to implement leading best practices and programs designed to reduce correctional populations while maintaining public safety are limited and difficult to secure. Worsening the reality of dwindling resources are political considerations that have led to “tough-on-crime” rather than “smart-on-crime” public policies, such as the shutdown of IDOC’s the “early release” program in Illinois’ Department of Corrections several years ago. (To date, no re-tooled program has been reintroduced, an intention that was announced by the Governor’s administration during the shutdown.) The result has been increasingly frequent reports of a state prison population that is “wretchedly” over facility design capacity.**
Given these realities, IACJ advances the following advocacy agenda for 2012, and will educate policymakers with regard to pertinent justice policy issues and promote IACJ’s agenda among them.
- IACJ will advocate the protection of current and future resources to support fiscally sound, proven services for justice-involved populations, as well the expansion of resources as a means of reaching more individuals, maximizing the fiscal benefit to the State, and promoting public safety.
- IACJ will advocate fiscally sound, smart-on-crime policies and programs that provide services for people involved in alternatives-to-incarceration programs and those embarking upon reentry into society following incarceration – both those delivered within correctional facilities and in communities, and for adults and youth.
- IACJ will seek to correct a State statute that unintentionally excludes people with first-time methamphetamine-law offenses from eligibility in alternatives-to-incarceration with community-based addiction treatment programming.
- IACJ will support, expand, and strengthen programs proven effective in facilitating prisoner reentry in areas such as education, employment, healthcare, and housing. The association will collaborate with and assist initiatives like the Council of Advisors to Reduce Recidivism through Employment (CARRE), which is an organized collaboration of groups committed to removing barriers to employment for people with criminal records and reduce legal and administrative barriers facing the reentry population.