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Probation problems plague prairie state

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 06:05:17 CDT

After years of cutbacks, probation officers were hoping for a funding bump in next year's proposed budget. Instead, they're facing even deeper cuts.
Probation, a sentence used for low-level offenders instead of prison, is under the control of the Illinois Supreme Court. Chief Justice Tom Kilbride says budgets have been slashed over the past decade:


"As a result of that, it's clogging up the court systems. Not all offenders are being properly assessed, or fully assessed. And in the low-risk category, a lot of those offenders are kind-of skating through the system."

That's from earlier this spring, when Kilbride made a personal appeal to legislative leaders to restore some of those cuts. He was not successful.

     John McCabe is a lobbyist for Illinois probation officers. He says they're facing a 13-percent cut. Counties actually pay for probation, so McCabe says this is effectively a $7-and-a-half-million dollar cost-shift onto local governments. He says they'll be asking themselves a question:


"Can we afford to do this? And can we continue to listen to the broken promises of the state to be an equal partner in funding probation?"

Governor Pat Quinn says he'll take action on the legislature's budget proposal by the end of the month.

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