St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly updated the public Tuesday on his office’s diversion program that allows participants to avoid a criminal conviction.
Requirements of the Offender Accountability program include community service, mandatory drug testing, payment of program costs, attendance at offender-accountability classes and payment of any fines and fees.
The length of the program runs from 3 to 6 months for the offender. When the participant completes the program, his or her criminal charge is dismissed.
“This is a way to hold offenders accountable for their actions, at no cost to the taxpayers of St. Clair County,” Kelly said.
He spoke to a group of residents during a forum at New Life Community Church in East St. Louis.
Kelly said the Offender Accountability program is part of his office’s “3-D” prosecution strategy — to disrupt, dislocate and deter crime by modifying the behavior of individuals committing crime.
Kelly’s office started the Offender Accountability program three years ago.
Kelly, who serves on a panel appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to study ways to reduce the state’s prison population, said he thinks the program should be expanded to other parts of Illinois.
He said the sentencing reform committee which is made up of lots of people from diverse backgrounds wants to reduce the prison population by 25 percent.
“We want to emphasize safety and bring about outcomes that are just,” Kelly said. “These two things are not incompatible. You cannot have criminal justice without social justice and you cannot have social justice without criminal justice. We have to focus on those who are most dangerous, but hold people who are offenders accountable,”
Residents at the forum said the community needs jobs, activities for youths and housing for ex-offenders.