The Illinois Supreme Court recently granted certification to three new problem-solving courts in Kendall, Peoria and Tazewell counties. Illinois now has more than 100 specialized courts throughout the state that can help provide better treatment and alternative options for certain offenders facing jail time.
Each recently certified court specializes is a different area of law. The Kendall County court was certified as a Drug Court, the Peoria County court was certified as a DUI Court, and the Tazewell County court earned its certification as a Mental Health Court.
Benefits Of Specialized Courts
These specialized courts have benefits for both the offender and the community. These courts, which are focused on solving a specific issue, provide more hands-on treatment and offer a way for offenders to get clean and deal with issues that led to their incarceration in the first place. It can also keep offenders out of jail, which doesn’t always have the intended effect on rehabilitating the person. Additionally, the specialized courts are cost-effective for the state
“It’s astronomical the cost to incarcerate a person for a year versus the cost of putting a person into a drug court program, which sometimes takes them a year to get through,” said Dave Hylla, chief judge for the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County. “It costs them about $2,500.”
However, it’s worth noting that these specialized courts shouldn’t be seen as a free pass for offenders. According to Hylla, the programs these courts offer are designed to be tough, and oftentimes offenders will drop out of the programs and decide to serve out their sentence in jail.
“Not everyone that goes into drug court graduates,” said Hylla. “It’s not an easy program. Some of the people that go to drug court decide they would rather go to jail than finish their program and they voluntarily drop out.”
Those who do make it through the program offered by the problem-solving court say they are grateful for the chance at redemption and are thankful for all the support they’ve received along the way. By combining treatment, support and guidance, these courts can help get people back on the right track in life.
“For them, it saves their lives,” said Hylla.