Jessica Reichert is
Manager of the Center for Justice Research and Evaluation.
Behavioral health, policing, corrections/reentry, trauma/PTSD, and human trafficking
This article offers an overview of state and national homelessness including prevalence and causes of homelessness, criminal justice system contacts with the homeless, and recommendations to address homelessness with a focus on justice-involved populations.
Gun violence continues to be a major criminal justice and public health issue. This article provides an overview of one strategy to reduce gun violence—focused deterrence. The strategy has been employed in many major U.S. cities, including in Illinois in Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. Overall research on focused deterrence strategies has found statistically significant reductions in violent crime.
This article provides an overview of the main issues driving a renewed focus on pretrial detention, the effects of overuse of pretrial detention, and potential areas of reform with a focus on Illinois law and practices when possible. Illinois has made some progress in pretrial reform including the passing of a Bail Reform Act which became effective in 2018. However, more data and research is needed in the area of pretrial practices.
Excessive opioid prescribing increases exposure to those drugs and increases their volume in communities. Over-prescribing has been associated with growing rates of opioid use disorder, overdose, and death. Opioid prescription rates are relatively low in Illinois compared to other states; however, prescription rates varies greatly by county, city, and medical practitioner. This article summarizes Illinois opioid prescription data from the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program.
Media—in particular news coverage—contribute toward shaping public understanding and opinion on societal issues, and influence policies, programs, and legislative action. While a small number of previous studies have explored journalists’ reporting on other social issues, very little is known about their perceptions and knowledge of human trafficking. In this exploratory study, researchers conducted 12 qualitative interviews with Illinois newspaper reporters to examine their understanding and work process in covering human trafficking. The results suggest that while many reporters understand the federal definition of trafficking, there remain gaps in knowledge about the complexity of the issue. Furthermore, the work process that reporters follow to report on human trafficking differs by their particular role and level of experience, with investigative stories on human trafficking being covered by more seasoned reporters who have the time and space to explore the issue in greater depth. The study findings highlight the importance of, and constraints upon, comprehensive news coverage on human trafficking.
Problem-solving courts have operated as separate courts or dockets as an alternative to adjudication or incarceration for more than 20 years. These programs offer clients court accountability, intensive supervision, drug testing, and treatment for substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and other issues. Drug, mental health, domestic violence, and veteran’s courts are the most common problem-solving models, with 3,000 in existence around the country. This article provides a state and national overview of problem-solving courts, components shown to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, and implications for policy and practice.
Drug trafficking constitutes a major threat to public health and community well-being. Multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, comprised of law enforcement officers in one or more counties that agree to pool resources, were designed to combat drug distribution and trafficking. Researchers evaluated 19 drug task forces in Illinois using quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods included analyzing administrative data and state arrest records. Qualitative methods included focus groups with members of 18 task forces and surveys of both staff and policy board directors. The study revealed Illinois drug task forces made proportionately more drug arrests carrying more serious felony and manufacture/delivery charges than their local police counterparts. The study also showed the task forces fostered collaboration with stakeholders, maintained fidelity to critical elements of drug task forces, and garnered support from their policy boards.
First responders across the country are carrying and administering naloxone, successfully reversing countless overdose deaths. However, experiencing a revival isn’t always a deterrent for those suffering with opioid use disorder, as many continue to use, experience repeated overdoses, and repeatedly come into contact with local law enforcement. Some police officers are beginning to experience frustration with repeated calls for revival, as well as continued and frequent contacts with and arrests of the same individuals. Communities are learning overdose reversal is just the first step in opioid intervention. With opioid deaths on the rise and fentanyl deaths rapidly increasing, a crisis of this magnitude requires innovative responses at multiple intervention points, including post-overdose, as part of a comprehensive strategy to aid in the treatment of and recovery from opioid use disorders. This article explores law enforcement overdose reversal and post-resuscitation and treatment responses in the newly emerging field of pre-arrest diversion.
An increasing number of widely publicized and divisive incidents between police and citizens suggest a need for police policies and practices to improve procedural justice. Procedural justice emphasizes the need for police to demonstrate their legitimacy to the public in four areas—voice, transparency, fairness, and impartiality. This article explains procedural justice and police legitimacy, examines the often racial divide between citizens and police, and offers implications for police policy and practice.
Researchers conducted a process evaluation of Safe Passage, a police deflection model in which police departments become a referral point to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders. Through the model, individuals can walk into any participating police department and request and receive treatment without fear of arrest. In Illinois, Safe Passage has served 170 individuals in rural Lee and Whiteside counties since 2015. Researchers sought to understand how the initiative was developed and operated and gain perspectives of stakeholders, police officers, treatment providers, and clients involved in the program. While more research is needed, the initiative showed promise in its collaborative approach to connecting clients to treatment.
Seeking to more effectively help individuals suffering from opioid use disorder, police departments across the country are embracing a deflection model that offers treatment access to those in need. Researchers interviewed representatives of seven law enforcement agencies employing treatment program models in Illinois to better understand operations, leverage lessons learned, measure sustainability, and inform other agencies as they implement their own programs.
Although there have been documented declines in U.S. crime rates in past decades, recent news headlines in Chicago often highlight incidents of, and concerns about, violence, particularly gun violence. Prior research has noted fear of crime in urban neighborhoods is associated with physical deterioration, as well as social disorganization and vulnerability. ICJIA researchers surveyed more than 1,000 Chicago residents in 16 neighborhoods on fear of crime and compared their responses to a measure of neighborhood social vulnerability. This study found an association between social vulnerability and fear of crime. In addition, half of the residents had greater fear than expected based on neighborhood social vulnerability and half had less fear of crime than expected. Future research can serve to understand the impact of, and ways to reduce, unwarranted fear that can have a negative impact on individuals.
The prevalence of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is higher among individuals in prison and jail than in the general population. Research has shown a connection between trauma and criminality due in part to the coping mechanisms of aggression and substance misuse after a traumatic event. While the corrections environment itself may cause or exacerbate PTSD symptoms in some individuals, facilities can implement trauma-informed practices to minimize re-traumatization and reduce PTSD symptoms. This article documents the prevalence of trauma and PTSD within this population, and discusses how correctional facilities can implement trauma-informed practices and evidence-based approaches to assist individuals with trauma histories.
Research has found nearly all prisoners have experienced a traumatic event in their life and a high proportion suffer from PTSD. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and WestCare Foundation (Illinois) researchers surveyed 573 Illinois prisoners to understand the trauma they experienced and explore the relationship between trauma and substance misuse. Researchers found 89 percent of those surveyed had both experienced and witnessed more than one traumatic event during their lifetime. Almost one-fourth of the sample were identified as being symptomatic for PTSD (24 percent). In addition, researchers found a relationship found between greater PTSD symptoms and higher drug use. This article describes survey findings and provides implications for policy and practice in correctional facilities.
There is a national opioid epidemic and one intervention to help those suffering from an opioid use disorder (OUD) is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is the use of medications in conjunction with behavioral therapy as part of a long-term treatment regimen. There are three main MAT medications used today—methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Research has shown MAT, in particular the use of methadone or buprenorphine, is considered an evidence-based practice to treat OUD. Studies indicate those in MAT have better outcomes than those who engage in therapy alone. This article provides an overview of MAT with a focus on use with criminal justice populations.
While more than half of individuals incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder, little is known about their misuse of prescription drugs. In this study, Authority researchers, in collaboration with WestCare Foundation Illinois, surveyed 573 state prisoners on prescription drug use to examine prevalence, accessibility, motivation for use, and effects. Forty-six percent of the sample reported using prescription drugs to get high and 20 percent used prescription drugs daily in the year before their incarceration.
It is important for states to understand current drug and crime trends in order to be proactive. Local law enforcement can provide important contributions in identifying emerging drug and crime trends as frontline officers. To get the local law enforcement perspective, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority administered a survey to Illinois police chiefs and county sheriffs to gain insight regarding drug trafficking in their jurisdiction. Eighty-three police chiefs and county sheriffs responded to the survey, most frequently identifying heroin and prescription drugs as the greatest drug threats in their jurisdictions. Methamphetamine was also reported as the greatest drug threat in the central and southern regions of Illinois. This article is a summary of key findings of the full report
Synthetic drug use is a growing public health concern. Synthetics are often cheaper and more readily available than cannabis and amphetamines, making them attractive alternatives to other illicit drugs. In addition, the chemical formulas for these drugs are constantly changing, making them difficult to regulate, and their detection is limited in commonly used drug screenings. Authority researchers partnered with WestCare Foundation to survey 573 state prisoners on synthetic drug use to examine prevalence, accessibility, motivation for use, and effects. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported any synthetic drug use in their lifetime prior to incarceration. Findings suggested a proportion of the criminal justice population engages in synthetic drug use and the findings were consistent with other research on synthetic drug use.
Police administrators across the country are recognizing the need to connect individuals with whom they come into contact in the community to evidence-based treatment to better address the large social and economic burden of substance use disorders (SUD), a chronic and relapsing condition. Police frequently encounter substance using individuals and their families in the community, and often have repeat contacts with individuals suffering from SUD. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of different police agency responses to individuals with SUD that are intended to prevent overdose deaths and divert individuals with SUD away from the criminal justice system and toward appropriate support and treatment.
During stages of ongoing, yet incomplete, cognitive development, youth may be more inclined to take risks and experiment with drugs and alcohol and are often heavily influenced by their peers, leading to negative outcomes. Nationally and in Illinois, traditionally high drug use categories of marijuana and alcohol appear to be stable or falling and youth use of other drugs remains relatively low.
More than 500,000 individuals are released from prison each year. As they return to their communities, they face obstacles in finding employment and housing, as well as significant debt, outstanding fines, and restitution payments. Two-thirds of this population are arrested again within three years. St. Leonard’s House in Chicago offers voluntary, supportive housing for men exiting prison. Program clients receive housing, substance abuse treatment, psychological services, life skills, mentoring, and education and vocational services. Authority researchers used qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection, as well as quasi-experimental design and advanced statistical analysis, to examine outcomes after program participation, including arrests, convictions, incarcerations, and employment.
Opioid and heroin use is surging in Illinois communities and across the country with dramatic increases in the number of users and deaths by overdose. Communities, criminal justice practitioners, and public health professionals are struggling to help those suffering from opioid use disorders and, ultimately, save lives. This article provides an overview of the opioid epidemic and its causes, including the link between prescription opioids and heroin.
In 2014, the Reentry Program, one of three components of Illinois’ Community Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) receiving funds through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, provided services to youth and young adults on parole and aftercare in 21 Chicago area communities in order to assist with their compliance with parole board orders and other aspects of successful community reintegration, such as educational enrollment and employment. Authority researchers examined the Reentry Program component of the Community Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) to ascertain how the program was meeting the reentry needs of Chicago area youth and young adults.
Satisfaction with the criminal justice system often reflects the opinions of the public rather than that of the offender. When probation clients are able to provide feedback in a meaningful way, they are less marginalized and alienated from a process attempting to make changes in their behavior and attitudes. Authority researchers interviewed probationers served by Adult Redeploy Illinois program models to gain their perspectives and make recommendations for program enhancement.
In Illinois, the distribution of controlled substances is a significant problem and task forces were created to combat the distribution of controlled substances at the local level. This study sought to understand the extent of the drug problem in the jurisdictions covered by each drug task force. Authority researchers surveyed 19 Authority-funded drug task forces on types of drugs, frequency, trends, use, and distribution.
Jails in the United States house large numbers of detainees who have urgent public and behavioral healthcare needs as well as various serious social, economic, and personal problems. Jails are often the primary (or only) settings for medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse treatment.
Growing public support for prison reform has brought attention to community-based supervision alternatives, including intensive supervision probation for offenders who are at significant risk of being incarcerated. Researchers examined four intensive supervision probation with services programs supported by Adult Redeploy Illinois for fidelity to the evidence-based service model.
Urban violence is a major public health concern and at epidemic levels in some neighborhoods, directly impacting the mental health of its residents (Morris, n.d.). The rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among urban populations is estimated to be around 31 percent, higher than the PTSD rate among returning Iraq war veterans of 17 percent.
Drug courts emerged in the 1990s to address serious drug offending while improving offender outcomes and reducing incarceration costs. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority researchers examined drug courts funded by Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) in five counties. Data to measure the 10 key components was collected after 18 months of program implementation (August 2012 to July 2013). ARI applies evidence-based, data-driven, and result-oriented strategies to curb prison overcrowding and enhance public safety.
More than 2.4 million people are confined in correctional facilities across the United States. Each year, more than half a million inmates are released from prison and return to their communities. The formerly incarcerated face many obstacles as they reenter the community, such as finding employment and housing, and paying outstanding fines, restitution, and other debts.
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority researchers conducted an evaluation of the Community Violence Prevention Program’s Youth Employment Program. The program, which ended in August 2014, sought to increase job readiness skills, build relationships with a caring adult, improve attitudes toward employment and violence, increase self-esteem and conflict resolution skills, and offer community service and engagement.
More than 2.4 million people are confined in the U.S. in state and federal prisons, juvenile corrections, and jails. Each year, more than half a million individuals are released from prison and return to their communities. After leaving prison, offenders with criminal records face obstacles such as difficulty finding employment and housing, significant debt, outstanding fines, and restitution payments.
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority researchers conducted an evaluation of the Community Violence Prevention Program’s (CVPP) Parent Program. The program, which ended August 2014, sought to increase protective factors to reduce child maltreatment by employing and training nearly 1,000 Chicago-area parents to lead service projects to help other parents in 20 communities.
Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) applies evidence-based, data-driven, and result-oriented strategies to curb prison overcrowding and enhance public safety. Since 2010, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (Authority) has administered grant funding for ARI and offered research, evaluation, and technical assistance to the program.