"Drug courts serve as a successful
model for helping reduce crime and recidivism among drug-involved
offenders," Gov. Blagojevich said. "My administration has been
working aggressively to address the state's record recidivism rate,
largely fueled by the fact that as many as 69 percent of inmates are
in prison for a drug crime or a drug-involved offense. This year, we
have established the Sheridan national model drug prison and
re-entry program and have begun a full-scale reform of parole in
this state, called Operation Spotlight, that includes improving the
management of drug-involved offenders in our communities. Through
developing a closer partnership with the courts, this new law will
provide parole with more tools to move offenders away from crime and
drugs and make our communities safer."
Through parole, the Department of
Corrections currently oversees the management and supervision of
offenders from prison to re-entry to the community. Last year, Gov.
Blagojevich began the four-year Operation Spotlight reform plan to
improve supervision of parolees by doubling the number of parole
agents and developing a best-practices case management plan for
managing high-need offenders, such as those addicted to drugs. The
plan involves development of a series of graduated sanctions and
rewards for offenders to help move them away from crime and drugs
and toward honest work and accountability. By improving access to
drug courts, parole agents will be able to use an additional
graduated sanction consistent with this plan.
"Last year the
legislature passed a law requiring persons sent to prison for crimes
related to drug addiction be provided drug treatment while they
serve their term. This opportunity is provided to stop the cycle of
drug addiction and to lower the rate of repeat offenders who are in
prison because of their addiction," said Sen. Cullerton. "Now the
question remains: Will the offenders stay clean once they are out?
Drug courts have shown that they have the expertise and experience
to provide support to the addict and to administer the programs
available to curb the addiction and stop the cycle of drug addiction
Prior to Senate Bill 2654, parolees
released from state prisons did not have access to drug courts.
Since drug courts are county-based programs, only probationers could
participate in these programs. The legislation makes a technical
change in the law in order to allow certain drug offenders, as
designated by a judge, to serve concurrently under both parole and
probation supervision after release from a state prison. This
enables their participation in drug courts.
Under the amended law, all offenders
are eligible for a drug court program except those who have been
convicted of selected crimes of violence, deny use of or addiction
to drugs, are not willing to participate in a treatment program, or
have previously completed or been discharged from a drug court
program. Participants can also receive sanctions that include fines,
fees, costs, restitution, incarceration of up to 180 days, therapy,
drug testing, close monitoring by the court, and educational or
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The new law also adds a ninth option of
a term of imprisonment in combination with a term of probation when
an offender has been admitted into a drug court program under
Section 20 of the Drug Court Treatment Act (730 ILCS 166/20).
When a person is sentenced under this
new law, the combination of time served in a Department of
Corrections facility and time required on probation cannot exceed
the maximum amount of time imposed if only being sentenced to the
Department of Corrections. As part of this legislation, the judge
can order the probation period to begin while an ex-offender is
still on mandatory supervised release (parole), living at a
Department of Corrections transitional center (day release program)
or on an electronic monitoring device. This order would require the
ex-offender to simultaneously serve on parole and probation.
Senate Bill 2654 does not mandate that
a drug court program be established in every county. Currently, 19
drug court programs operate in 13 counties.
"With the development of Operation
Spotlight and enhanced community-based programs, like drug courts,
we are redefining what it means to be tough on crime in this state.
Instead of dropping offenders into Illinois' communities upon
release from prison and waiting for them to commit a new crime or
find a new victim, we are demanding accountability from them as
citizens of this state. With the signing of Senate Bill 2654, the
state and the counties are saying to drug-involved offenders, ‘We
will give you the opportunity to address the cause of your criminal
behavior, and if you don't, there will be consequences,'" the
Gov. Blagojevich said the new law has
the potential to save costs of incarceration by giving drug court
judges the option of imposing shorter sentences combined with parole
and probation. The new law also supports the leveraging of state
resources with county resources to partner in the effective
supervision of drug-involved inmates upon release from prison.
Department of Corrections Director
Roger E. Walker Jr. said the legislation will help reinforce the
agency's goal of taking prison-based treatment and re-entry
management to the next level of performance.
"At any given time more than 25,000
inmates in Illinois prisons are in need of some form of drug
intervention -- if not full clinical treatment," Walker said. "These
statistics visibly show the need for dedicated substance-abuse
treatment and re-entry programs designed for a targeted prison and
2654 is effective Jan. 1, 2005.
[News release from the