The Authority hit many highs in 2015, kicking off new and exciting initiatives, improving the agency’s web presence, and offering a variety of new research to support criminal justice reform. Here is a list of some of the agency’s most notable efforts throughout the year:
The Authority launched a new and improved website in 2015. The new site features a streamlined design and more engaging user experience. The site provides enhanced navigation and accessibility to Authority news, research, and resources. With its responsive design, the site allows access across multiple devices, including cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. The site was built in-house using open source web development tools that keep maintenance costs down while offering enhanced web security.
Outstanding program recognition
The Authority’s Adult Redeploy Illinois program was honored with the 2015 National Criminal Justice Association Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award-Midwest Region in recognition of its work in community corrections.
Adult Redeploy Illinois supports 21 sites, implementing 24 programs, across 39 Illinois counties. The initiative has diverted more than 2,700 offenders from the Illinois Department of Corrections since its 2011 inception, resulting in estimated potential savings of $46.5 million in correctional costs.
A 2015 Authority evaluation of Adult Redeploy Illinois program in DuPage County, determined the program had exceeded its reduction goal of 25 percent. Another 2015 evaluation determined the initiative’s five drug court programs had maintained fidelity to the evidence-based drug court program model.
Governor’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission support
The Governor’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission is charged with developing comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to meet the goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population 25 percent by 2025.
Throughout the year, the Authority staffed Governor’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission, maintained the Commission website, and managed communication with the public on the Commission’s work. The Commission is conducting a thorough review of the state’s criminal justice and sentencing structure, sentencing practices, community supervision, and use of alternatives to incarceration. Data collection and analysis, provided by Authority staff, is being used to identify public safety outcomes that reduce crime, reduce recidivism, and protect the citizens of Illinois.
Strategic plan for research and program funding
Borrowing from lessons learned in the private sector related to developing and sustaining learning organizations, staff embarked on a strategic plan to capitalize on existing research capabilities and funding opportunities that help the Authority realize its mission of improving criminal justice administration in Illinois. The plan intentionally engages research at every stage of the grant making process, from identifying needs and gaps in services to evaluating program performance and outcomes.
Research to support criminal justice reform
Also in 2015, the Authority’s Research & Analysis Unit developed and implemented a strategic plan of its priorities, goals, objectives, and performance measures. The plan includes:
- Collecting, analyzing, and publishing data that informs local and state criminal justice policy and contributes to public safety and system reform.
- Evaluating programs that receive large allocations of grant funding to ensure best use of limited resources.
- Identifying performance measures based on program logic models, design grantee data reports to capture those measures, and use resultant data for determining program effectiveness.
- Identifying evidence-based and promising programs that fall within Authority funding priorities.
- Conducting applied research studies in priority areas to guide policy, practices, and funding decisions.
- Partnering with other agencies and universities to identify important topics to examine and conduct research and evaluation.
A variety of new research was published by the Authority in 2015. Topics included post-traumatic stress disorder among Cook County Jail detainees, an examination of mental health courts, and women and reentry after prison. Read the latest articles and reports.
Violence reduction initiative
Sponsored in partnership with the City of Peoria, U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of Illinois, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Joyce Foundation, the Authority hosted a November 2015 conference in Peoria, entitled “Partnerships and Strategies to Reduce Violent Crime.”
Multidisciplinary teams from jurisdictions experiencing high levels of violence were invited to learn about innovative approaches to serious crime and high levels of gun violence from local and national experts, including David M. Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities.
Authority staff continues to work with participants of the conference to explore the use of funding and technical assistance to develop and implement violence reduction strategies across the state.
Expansion of collaborative victim service efforts
The Authority initiated a three-year effort to expand the number of response teams serving victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking across Illinois in 2015.
The Authority set aside $4 million in federal fiscal year 2015 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funding to support multidisciplinary teams of police, prosecutors, probation officers, and victim service providers. The funding initiative was part of a research-driven effort to support best practices in criminal justice.
Grants were awarded to Cook, Kankakee, Peoria, and St. Clair counties for multidisciplinary response team programs serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.