WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – The Winnebago County Court System is overloaded. The State’s Attorney says with at least 5 people arrested each day, courtrooms are packed and cases are piling up.
Rockford native Hannah Muther says crime hasn’t scared her away from the city, instead she’s trying to help reverse the trend.
“I am from Rockford, came back here not necessarily out of wanting to but I am here just trying to do whatever I can to make it better.”
Muther wants to become one of the panel members on the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Deferred Prosecution Program. The plan is to give first time, non-violent adult offenders a second chance.
“We need to find alternative means to handle individuals who have made bad judgments so we can impact their lives and keep them from committing further offenses.”
Bruscato hopes to change alarming crime statistics, like the nearly 2,400 crimes committed in the last 15 months by creating an alternative justice system.
“A lot of these are committing these offenses and making bad judgments because they have substance abuse problems or because they can’t find jobs so they turn to crime.”
The Deferred Prosecution Program which started in January, is a 5 step program. Once the offender completes all 5 steps, they will do community service, counseling, and receive their GED.
“You give people a second chance, an opportunity, a leg up, to be a successful part of the community , rather than being forced to turn to crime.”
Bruscato believes people like Muther have the ability to give some non-violent offenders a chance at redemption.
The offender must be referred by the State’s Attorney’s Office to even be considered for the Deferred Prosecution Program. Once they enroll offenders will have to be accepted into the program based on their history if they successfully complete the program then their offense will be taken off their record.