Public intoxication and underage drinking have locked up Keith Hariss's 20-year-old step-son Cort. If this were his first offense, Cort could be eligible for the Resource Intervention Center. Or "R.I.C." It's a program being proposed by the Winnebago County Board that offers GED courses for first-time offenders. A program, Hariss would like to see his step-son enroll.
"Probably wakes him up to see he could do better with his life instead of being out on the streets getting into trouble," Hariss says.
If one already has their GED, there's job training drug testing and anger management. All being offered to prevent future overcrowding since the Justice Center is already at 42-percent capacity.
"Not only do we get a chance to get these folks out and in society in a productive fashion but it also saves us money," says Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen.
Tax payers shell out 60-dollars a day per inmate. While R.I.C would only cost 15-dollars. Some say that's a small price to keep minor offenders away from hard criminals.
"When they don't got to hang around people like that and hear all of their stories they have to say up there and give them more ideas of the wrong thing to do," says Kenneth Hanvy, who's nephew is in jail.
Hanvy's nephew probably wouldn't be a good candidate since he has a laundry list of charges, but says he hopes such a program will help keep recidivism low.
County officials still need to find a home for the program. Staff from Rock Valley and NIU would come teach the classes at that location. So there would be no mixing with the general public. The Board has budgeted $600,000 for the center. They'll vote on it September 27th. If it's approved, the center could be up and running within four months.
Chairman Christiansen says behind Cook County, Winnebago County has the most amount of people on probation. And Winnebago is only the seventh largest county in the state. So many hope a program like this would prevent more from even getting on probation.