Parolee Call-In: One Year Later

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Just a day after investigators say a parolee shot at a Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputy Rockford Police tell us what's being done to stop criminals from re-offending.

A plan to keep re-offenders out of prison seems to be working. The Parolee Call-In system started a year ago after police say two men stabbed and robbed business owners off Broadway. The call-in system helps ex-offenders get back on their feet.

"It’s going well. We still have tremendous challenges but between the parolee call-ins, the Violent Crime Task Force, there's a number of things we're doing to combat violent crime," Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, said.

So far about 160 parolees have attended the meetings where they hear from officers who explain the consequences of continuing a life of crime, and get help signing up for services like housing; a critical component of staying out of trouble.

"The statistics say there's a 25% greater chance they'll reoffend each time they move, so stable housing right out of the box is incredibly important," Ron Clewer, Rockford Housing Authority CEO, said.

More than a dozen now live RHA properties, however some say that isn't enough. Rockford Police tell us 27 have reoffended. That's why city leaders want to see more businesses get involved in the coming year.

"We have a lot of services and support for people who are coming out of the prison system. What we need are jobs and opportunities and that’s why we're also working on entrepreneurship efforts," Mayor Morrissey said.

The city also hopes to establish a drop-in center and start a mentoring program where ex-offenders can get help building resumes and applying for jobs.

Rockford Police have been working with the Illinois Department of Corrections and hopefully within the next year start getting more detailed information before offenders leave prison. That would include mental health needs, if the prisoner had any disciplinary issues, or completed their GED. That information will help social workers in setting up services for offenders quicker.

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