St. Clair County in pilot program to keep ex-inmates from returning to prison

News-DemocratMarch 26, 2014 

— The St. Clair County state's attorney's office is taking a lead role in a federally funded data-exchange and monitoring program to keep ex-inmates from returning to prison.

"Police, prosecutors and the courts need accurate data to keep track of offenders to ensure they don't re-offend and ensure they at least have a chance to become productive citizens," said Brendan Kelly, the county state's attorney. "We can't ignore this piece of the puzzle."

Kelly's office is playing a primary role in the National Governor's Association Corrections Cross-Boundary Data Exchange Project. The project is being funded by U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Justice Assistance, according to a statement Kelly released.

The program seeks to improve ex-inmates' re-entry strategies for two jurisdictions -- St. Clair and Lake counties -- by setting up a system to enable two-way data exchange between both counties and the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Examples of data to be shared include parolee release data, residential address, prison and addiction history, known medications and mental health needs.

The project will begin in earnest toward the end of the summer. That's when representative of the governors association will visit St. Clair County to analyze the county's technology needs. Next, they will determine how much it will cost to implement such technology, according to Kelly.

"I anticipate that by next year we'll be well into this process," he said.

The county won't have to hire new personnel to put its part of the project in place. Instead, the governors program, with the aid of federal funds, will pay for private contractors to perform the code-writing and other labor to put the program together "and share the data in a real time way to make sure offenders aren't re-offending," Kelly said.

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