BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- The Boone County State's Attorney is trying to give first time, non-violent felony offenders a second chance.
"If it's an individual who made a simple mistake in their youth or during a very difficult time and they're not likely to re-offend, I think we as a community are better off making sure that person is held accountable for their actions, and yet not branded a felon for the rest of their lives," said Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier.
Courier is talking about the First Offender Program. It helps low-level felony offenders, like those who commit retail theft or forgery, a chance to avoid a felony conviction.
If accepted into the program, a community panel will decide conditions the offender must complete; things like community service or employment and educational programs. Former Belvidere mayor Fred Brereton will help decide those conditions.
"This committee is one piece of the puzzle. It's still going to be up to the individual to prove first of all that they're worthy to be in the program and then secondly, they're going to have to participate and demonstrate that they're going to keep their record and their live clean," said Brereton.
The First Offender Program takes effect today. Offenders can be referred to the program. There is an application fee of $25 dollars and a $750 program fee must also be paid once the individual is accepted into the program. For more information, click the link below.