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Local News

Kendall County drug court grant held up by Illinois fiscal stalemate

State budget needed for 23rd Judicial Circuit to get funding

The Kendall County State’s Attorney’s Office is slated to receive a grant of nearly $150,000 from the state’s Adult Redeploy Illinois program to establish and pay for the operation of a drug court to serve the county’s 23rd Judicial Circuit.

However, the funding is contingent upon an appropriation from the state of Illinois for fiscal 2016, County State’s Attorney Eric Weis told the County Board last week.

The state’s fiscal year began July 1, but state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner remain locked in a dispute over the budget.

“It sounds great except there is no funding for it yet because there is no [state] budget,” Weis said. “What we end up getting, I don’t know that’s what they tell us.”

The grant is expected to run from Oct. 1 through June 30 and is a joint effort of the state’s attorney’s office, public defender’s office, court services, sheriff’s office and the judiciary.

The goal of drug court is to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders who are sent to prison, Weis said, and to assist those who are addicted to drugs in leading a law-abiding lifestyle. Officials hope this grant funding will help to reduce the substantial cost for each person incarcerated in the state prison system.

Weis said the grant would help pay for a drug court coordinator, which coordinates the entire project and handles the day-to-day operations. It also covers some cost for counseling and drug testing. The funding will continue to come from the ARI program each year as long as the court justifies a reduction in the number of inmates sent to prison, according to Weis.

Board member Bob Davidson questioned if the county could potentially be left with a program without funding.

“Obviously if they can not incarcerate X amount of people, the money they spend for us is obviously significantly less than what they would spend to incarcerate the individual,” Weis said. “We have to meet that requirement every year and if at the end of it there isn’t funding, then the program would cease to exist.”

Members of an exploratory committee for a Kendall County Drug Court had submitted a request for ARI funding earlier this year in the hope of establishing a drug court for Kendall County. The committee worked over two years to review data, determine the need for a drug court, and began to develop criteria for those that would be accepted to the program, according to information from Weis’ office.

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