Public Warming to Idea of Rehab for Nonviolent Offenders

Our current system of mass incarceration is not working and is not sustainable.  As a result, people’s attitudes about what to do with nonviolent offenders are changing.  A recent nationwide poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe that rehabilitation and treatment are the most appropriate response to people who have committed nonviolent offenses.

Currently, as many as one in three American adults have some type of criminal record.  While some ex-prisoners will continue to lead a life of crime, most of them try to rebuild their lives and avoid the criminal justice system.  The discrimination they face while struggling to do so greatly reduces their chances of success and leads to homelessness, a life of poverty, and increased chances of winding up back in jail.  It makes sense for non-violent offenders to avoid imprisonment in the first place.

Most states are experiencing a decline in both crime and incarceration rates, but unfortunately, Illinois is not one of them. While Illinois’ crime rate dropped by 23 percent from 2008 to 2013, our incarceration rate actually increased by 7 percent over that same period due to outdated criminal-justice policies that need reform.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Illinois, even a non-violent one, you are faced with a criminal record and discrimination that will negatively impact you for the rest of your life.  Due to the seriousness and complexity of Illinois criminal law, it is essential to get top-notch legal assistance.  The experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and requirements and will work with you to mount the most effective defense possible.  We offer a free consultation, so contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of any criminal charges.

The Illinois Prison Situation

Corrections programs are supposed to help reform offenders so they can become productive members of society, but too often prisons just warehouse offenders, who become hardened and locked into a continuing pattern of crime. In Illinois, nearly half of those who are imprisoned return within three years of release.

According to a report by Illinois Policy Organization, the state’s prison population has increased by more than 330 percent since the 1970s, spending is at an all-time high, and prisons are now at 150 percent of operational capacity. Illinois is leading the Midwest – and much of the country – in expenditures per inmate.

The growth in the prison population can be attributed to a growth in prison admissions, reduced sentencing credit, increased length of prison sentences and a consistently high rate of recidivism, individuals returning to prison after being released.

Fortunately, the report states that this situation can change through policy and legislative changes that focus on rehabilitation and recovery, not just putting people behind bars.

Necessary Changes

The report highlights the changes that need to be made in three general areas:

  • Treat the root causes of crime: Programs, including drug treatment for individuals arrested for minor crimes like possession, and early supervised release cost less than prison and have a proven track record of rehabilitating offenders.
  • Lower recidivism:  Parole and occupational-licensing reform can help ex-offenders find legitimate work, enabling them to stay out of prison.
  • Reduce unnecessarily punitive sentences: Illinois needs to make it harder for non-violent and low-level offenders to end up in prison in the first place.

In order to make these changes, the following policies are recommended:

  • Reclassify nonviolent drug offenses:Make low-level drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • Raise felony thresholds: Raise the felony theft threshold to $1,000 and review this annually
  • Expand Adult Redeploy:This program allows diversion of non-violent offenders from state prisons by providing community-based services instead.
  • Establish a restorative-justice program: This is a victim-offender mediation program for property crimes. It allows restitution instead of imprisonment.
  • Eliminate “max-outs”: Allow offenders to trade more time under mandatory supervised release for less time during the final year of their prison sentence.
  • Remove occupational-licensing restrictions: These restrictions are barriers to productive employment, which prevents return to crime.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Illinois, the punishments are still severe, so you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find.  The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation.

We work with our clients to come up with an effective defense strategy and determine whether to take a case to trial. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties, rights, and your ability to find employment.

We are aggressive litigators and will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

We offer a free consultation. Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us and call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation if you have been accused of any criminal charges.