County board approves Focused Deterrence Re-Entry Program

The Winnebago County Board approved the program Thursday night to help high-risk offenders get back into the community.
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - Anyone at a high risk of committing a crime could soon get help thanks to a new re-entry program.

The Winnebago County Board approved the Focus Deterrence Re-Entry Program Thursday night to help those who committed high-risk crimes get opportunities in the community through a four-year program. The $800,000 in local funding will be evenly split between the county and the City of Rockford. Some of that money will go towards hiring a specialized attorney.

“We have so much crime and not enough state’s attorney’s to handle this. This will allow us to really focus on those specific individuals in our office,” said State’s attorney J. Hanley.

Hanley says the four year program is designed to focus on those who are the biggest potential danger to public safety.

“In Winnebago county, it’s a relatively small population that’s committing the majority of our violent crime,” said Hanley. “We’ve got to focus those resources on the those high risk individuals and this program does just that.”

It had some success when it was first implemented in 2018, but it was put on hold due to a lack of funds. Now that it’s returned for a second stint, organizers hope it’s even more successful this time around.

“it just proves and shows how much how well our county and our city perceives the program’s benefits to be and the need of the re-entrants,” said Chairman’s office of Criminal Justice Initiatives Director Marlana Dokken.

According to Dokken, evidence shows that in order to reduce recidivism, you need to focus on high-risk, high-need offenders. By doing so, Navigators can help them out, if they choose to, with areas such as changing their mindset and potential employment options. Because of significant help in improving people’s cognitive behavior, some offenders have been able to turn their lives around.

“We’ve stayed in touch with some of the people from our previous program. We just had them on a webinar and one of them owns a business now he’s got their own business. They’re doing great,” said Dokken.

These offenders are being provided with an opportunity to return to the community when they come out of jail, but they are being watched. If they do commit another crime, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hanley says it’s all about focus, and a state’s attorney to specialize in these kinds of cases will help out other attorneys who might have 300 other cases to deal with.

“They’re going to have to fight to become valuable members of society, and there are things that we will do to help them,” said Hanley.

Dokken says the program doesn’t help those who receive traffic tickets such as a revoked license or failure to report an incident. County Board members say the new program could be put in place as soon as September.

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