Criminal Justice Summit

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

Therese Dennison waited seven days before picking her 18-year-old son Jeremiah up from jail.

"To teach him a lesson and make him aware of the consequences and that mom's not gonna bail him out every time he's gonna get in trouble," she says.

Because if she continues to bail him out, Dennison feels her son will keep getting in trouble, adding to Winnebago County's already high recidivism rate.

"It's easy to make arrests and put people in jail but once they come out if they're re offending what good does that do," says Winnebago County State's Attorney Phil Nicolosi.

Just five weeks on the job, Nicolosi hosted a Criminal Justice Summit. The guest list includes all sorts of crime fighting figure heads, such as Sheriff Dick Meyers and Chief Judge Janet Holmgren. The plan is to become more coordinated and keep the crime rate from going up.

"With the one-percent sales tax we have opportunities that are available to us to turn this around and get at the root cause of crime," Holmgren says.

One opportunity is a Resource Intervention Center, a program for first time-offenders that provides GED courses, job training, drug testing and anger management. The idea is to keep recidivism low and give people like Jeremiah the confidence to strive towards a successful future.

Inmates enrolled in "R.I.C." would be saving the county money. Inside the jail, we pay 60-dollars a day per inmate. However if they're enrolled in the program, it would cost just 15-dollars a day.

R.I.C. should be up and running by the end of next year. If it's successful, county leaders expect the jail population to go down. The program is already at 42-percent capacity.


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