ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The 17th Judicial Circuit Court Therapeutic Intervention Program, (TIP), celebrates the accomplishments of five of its graduates with mental illnesses, who’ve changed their lives around.
"My life was unraveling fast, it was chaotic, it was unstable and it was just a mess," said Francisco Bustamante, a new graduate of the Therapeutic Intervention Program.
Bustamante started more than two years ago after becoming homeless.
"As I landed in jail, I didn't really understand the consequences that I was facing. Had I known the consequences, I wouldn't have done what I did, but this program was an option that I thought was way better than jail," said Bustamante.
TIP court is a specialized problem-solving court program that provides therapeutic services and intensive court supervision to people in the criminal justice system who have a mental illness.
"You would not recognize most of them on the front end of things. Most were coming out of jail without any housing resources, unemployed, family relationships were probably broken, just nothing very positive going on in any aspect of their lives,” said Janet Holmgren, the Presiding Judge of the Problem-Solving Courts Division.
The program gives people the opportunity to get help, whether they're battling a mental illness or substance use.
“At the end of the day, participants are now employed, rekindled relationships with family, and are pursuing educational opportunities. Across the board, it’s just a much better outcome than if they simply did their prison time or went on a different track in probation, It demonstrably reduces the likelihood of re-offense, so that's the win for the community," said Holmgren.
Bustamante successfully completed the program along with four other people.
"The main thing that I’m going to take away from this program is that I can accomplish something with meaning and that is worthwhile," said Bustamante.
TIP started in 2005 and 155 participants have since graduated from the program. These five graduates are now on the search for jobs to begin giving back to society.