Local Government

Grant to help create prison diversion program

Wendy Venvertloh
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 8, 2017 8:40 am

QUINCY -- Adams County has been awarded a $257,000 state grant that will allow it to work at keeping nonviolent offenders from being sent to prison and reducing their chances of reoffending.

Director of Court Services Wendy Venvertloh said the grant from Adult Redeploy Illinois will allow the county to set up a local diversion program site.

"The intent of that is that we take some offenders who are on the verge of going to prison but that could potentially be managed in the community if we have more resources," Venvertloh said. "It's very new, but we're excited to get it going and hoping to make a positive impact on individuals and a community as a whole."

The idea to apply for the grant came as the county developed a Mental Health Court, though that will only be a small component of the diversion program.

Using evidence-based practices -- services in community corrections that are shown to keep communities safe and reduce recidivism -- Adult Redeploy Illinois will provide funds to provide assessment and referrals to individualized services, such as a jobs program; substance abuse counseling; or a cognitive behavioral group.

"What they are seeing and what is shown over and over again is when we invest money in proper community corrections, we not only keep the community safer, but we help people along the way become less likely to commit future crimes and become productive members of society," Venvertloh said.

The Adams County Probation Department adopted evidence-based practices in 2003.

"There's always emerging science, and things need to be tweaked, or you've learned that there's new information or new studies that you can do something a bit differently," Venvertloh said.

Through January 2017, Adult Redeploy Illinois has provided funding and technical assistance to 20 sites across 39 counties.

"The whole point of it is, the state of Illinois realizes that incarcerating as many people as we are is both very costly as well as increasing recidivism rates for many individuals that could be served through community corrections, such as probation," Venvertloh said.