QUINCY -- Those being incarcerated for nonviolent crimes are community members and neighbors.
Retired judge Jim Radcliffe stressed that point during a meeting among Adams County leaders and Adult Redeploy Illinois representatives at the Adams County Courthouse Friday afternoon. Adams County is preparing to apply for a site grant from the state organization. Adult Redeploy provides Illinois communities with financial incentives for programs that allow diversion of nonviolent offenders from state prisons.
Adult Redeploy is "far less expensive than the Department of Corrections and the results are better," Radcliffe, technical assistance provider and Adult Redeploy board member, said. He draws on 40 years of experience in the legal field -- 20 of which were spent as a judge -- in swinging his support behind the program.
"It's a no-brainer," he said. "It makes your community safer."
Adult Redeploy has 20 local sites operating across the state. Adams County is in the "planning grant" phase, meaning it must next complete a site-implementation grant.
"It's clear there is a lot of collaborative will in Adams County to give people services they need instead of sending them to prison," said Lindsey LaPointe, Adult Reploy program manager.
Since January 2011, Adult Redeploy has diverted almost 3,000 offenders from prison. The organization has saved $103.4 million across the state by providing alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders. The program emphasizes evidence-based practices and is meant to put an end to the cycle of incarceration. It supports problem-solving courts -- such as drug and mental health courts -- across the state, but grants are highly customizable according to an individual community's needs.
"Our criminal justice system overall hasn't been working for the last 40 years," LaPointe said. "(Incarceration) is the most expensive, least effective way, in terms of changing behavior. It's tax-payer money being spent on a failing system."
Friday's meeting was attended by representatives of local manufacturers, John Wood Community College, local law enforcement and other community institutions. Professional development is one of the areas of focus of the Crime Reduction Act.
William Stuflick, JWCC dean of career, technical and health education, discussed the school's new industrial fabrication certification. The non-credit program is geared toward jumpstarting a person in the world of manufacturing and preparing students to enter the workforce at an entry level.
"John Wood is trying to catch these at-risk students before they get in the system," Stuflick said.
The certification program will cost $3,722. Paul Mast of Master Foundry added some incentive, announcing that he would donate $1,000 to anyone who uses the program to find a machinist job and stays at that job for at least six months.
"If you give a lot of these folks the opportunity, most will turn out to be successful," Radcliffe said. "We know this kind of community-based approach works,"
Radcliffe lauded the support of the various community members who attended the day's meetings.
"Adams County has obviously done a lot of groundwork," he said.