WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) --Some criminals now have the chance to not only avoid jail time, but the courtroom and a mark on their record. It's part of a new Deferred Prosecution Program that was just launched by the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office.
Winnebago County's Deferred Prosecution Program will not only give offenders a second chance, but help relieve our overloaded courtrooms. The program will also help overcrowding in our jails. It's not just one person who decides if the accused criminal stays out of jail. There's a panel made up of community leaders who will meet with the first time felons, and decide if they're right for the program.
According to the Deferred Prosecution Program, to be eligible you have to have committed a non-violent crime. Eligible crimes include theft, forgery or property damage.The guidelines state this must be the first time you committed a crime. The defendant will also have to plead guilty to their crime. Once approved, you will be subjected to community service and monthly supervision. Random drug and alcohol screenings may also apply.
"Being smart on crime is that you can't simply prosecute your way out of your public safety issues. You need to have a spectrum of alternative ways to address the criminal justice system," says State Attiorney Joe Bruscato.
State Attorney Joe Bruscato says since the program started January 1st, they haven't had anyone complete the whole process yet. Bruscato says it will take about a year until the program starts to see results.
The program will cost $1,000. There is a $50 application fee. However, if you're admitted into the program, they will deduct the application fee from your program fee.