Metro-East News

Kelly: State budget impasse hurting fight against juvenile crime


St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly says Illinois’ difficulty in passing a budget is hurting crime-fighting efforts, particularly when it comes to juvenile offenders.

Kelly, in an interview with host Carol Marin on Chicago TV station WTTW, said state lawmakers’ ongoing inability to pass a budget has “negatively impacted many of the programs that we rely on to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.”

For example, Kelly said, Redeploy Illinois — a program that serves youth between the ages of 13 and 18 who are at high risk of commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice — is “now at sort of a shoestring operation” due to the budget situation.

“It has been a program which has been critical in my county to reducing the number of kids that we are sending off to the Department of Juvenile Justice,” Kelly said. “Without that program, it’s going to be harder and harder for law enforcement, harder and harder for us, to help kids from re-offending, and they’re going to wind up back on that pipeline of going from being a juvenile offender to adult felons.”

Kelly said he and and prosecutors from other counties have been pleading their case to lawmakers.

“We have been having those conversations with our representatives and our senators for several years now,” he said.

Kelly said Redeploy Illinois is “20 times less costly than putting a juvenile into the Department of Juvenile Justice. That’s a real number.”

Kelly was in Chicago for a meeting of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association. He serves as president of the organization. He appeared on the show with Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim and Union County State’s Attorney Tyler Edmonds.