(TASC, Inc. of Illinois) – As daily news headlines announce the tragedies wrought by violence, mental illness, and addiction, communities across the country are searching for solutions. It is important to remember that amidst the many challenges and tragedies, there is solid evidence of progress and everyday success. TASC’s spring newsletter highlights some of these inspiring stories of personal and programmatic triumph.
Women’s Prison Program Fosters Family Unity, Community Reentry
The Moms and Babies program at the Decatur Correctional Center allows incarcerated mothers of newborns to receive counseling and parenting training while their infants remain in their care. A key aim of the program is to provide mothers with training and hands-on experience that will help them parent their children in healthy ways when they return to the community. Since its inception, only one of 50 moms has returned to prison following participation in the program. (See page 1.)
Hope in Fighting Heroin Epidemic in Madison County
In Madison County just east of St. Louis, heroin has taken the lives of dozens of people, including TASC clients. Studies have shown that there is an extremely elevated risk for overdose when someone with an opiate addition leaves a structured environment such as jail or residential treatment. Last July, the Madison County Opiate Alert Project was initiated to prevent heroin overdose deaths among people who were being released from incarceration or residential treatment services. Not a single TASC client has died from an overdose since the program began last summer. (See page 4.)
Celebrations of Recovery
Each September, communities across the country commemorate National Recovery Month to promote the message that millions of people can and do recover from addiction and mental health problems. Forty-two events took place last September across Illinois, with TASC participating in family days, recovery walks, conferences, and rallies across the state. The national theme for Recovery Month 2013 will be Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness. To plan your 2013 Recovery Month celebrations, please visit http://www.recoverymonth.gov/. (See pages 5, 8).
(Chicago, IL)– Federal funding for Second Chance reentry programs, which had been cut by the Senate in September (see Sept. 16 post), has been restored. The House originally had approved $70 million for the Second Chance Act, but the Senate had eliminated the funding, leaving programs across the country in jeopardy for the 2012 fiscal year that began October 1.
As reported in an electronic press release by the Legal Action Center on November 18, “In a dramatic victory for advocates and stakeholders who support smart approaches to reentry that reduce recidivism and improve lives and communities, the House and Senate negotiated the differences between the two bills and today passed legislation, signed into law by the President, that includes $63 million in funding for Second Chance in FY 2012. The funding level is remarkably close to the $70 million high-water mark set by the House…”
Persistent phone calls and emails from reentry advocates across the country made a difference.
“The restored funding is not only a testament to the value and necessity of evidence-based reentry services, but it’s also a reminder that our voices are heard in Washington,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez. “We commend the members of Congress and our colleagues and fellow citizens across the country who recognized what’s at stake and insisted on the funding restoration.”
(Chicago, IL) — June 6, 2011. TASC Board Treasurer Noel Dennis, who had served on TASC’s board of directors since 1983, passed away on June 3. He was 68.
“Noel understood TASC from our roots,” said TASC President Pamela F. Rodriguez. “He first came in contact with TASC in the late 70s when he was a sheriff’s deputy. He went on to become a lawyer and soon thereafter a member of TASC’s board.”
A U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the John Marshall Law School, he practiced law in Illinois for more than 35 years.
“Thanks to his keen knowledge of the law and his commitment to TASC’s work, Noel was instrumental in our agency’s growth and development over the past three decades,” recalled Rodriguez. “He volunteered his legal expertise in a range of areas, from advocating for just processes for TASC clients in court to offering legal counsel when we purchased our offices on Halsted Street and Roosevelt Road in Chicago.”
Over the past few years, Dennis continued to serve on the board despite a battle with cancer.
“Noel was part of our TASC family for many years, and he was a personal friend,” she said. “We will miss him.”
(Springfield, IL) – Illinois lawmakers are rushing to find the magic fiscal number with some legislators expecting final figures by next week.
Illinois budget plans in the Illinois House for higher education, public safety and general services are headed for full debate this week, while agreements on elementary and high school education and human services are close to a resolution.
“The House will have the budget done by next week,” state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, said.
Unlike previous years, the Illinois House has delegated a larger role for its budget committees in determining next fiscal year’s budget.
State Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, D-Chicago, who heads the budget committee on higher education, said his group made it under the House’s higher education budget goal of $2.1 billion by targeting for-profit schools through the state’s monetary award program, or MAP.
“We had to make cuts, and the committee decided that cuts towards for-profit schools were far easier than cuts to the opposite (not-for-profit schools),” said Dunkin, who hoped the funds might be brought back on the Senate side, which is dealing with a larger $34.3 billion total budget plan.
(Springfield, IL) – As Illinois’ budget deadline approaches, the Illinois Senate could be the next fiscal battleground.
Fresh off of a two-week break, Illinois state senators on Monday returned to the Capitol to iron out the final details of a $30-billion-plus state spending plan.
“We’re going to pass a budget, and it will be a balanced budget,” said state Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, who added that he is confident the Senate would be done by the end of next week.
Exactly how to divide the state’s dollars, however, is in dispute.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, wants to see an agreement between the House and Senate that sets a price tag before lawmakers start spending.
“It is unfair to human service providers, state employees, universities to have both chambers pass a budget that is totally different and have each of them thinking that one or the other is going to be the realistic number,” Syverson said.
Scheduling Alert from IACJ: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has been called back early by the White House to address budget issues in Washington. He deeply regrets having to cancel his attendance at the Illinois Association for Criminal Justice (IACJ) event that was scheduled for Monday morning at Roosevelt University.
To ensure that Senator Durbin, Senator Mattie Hunter and Senator Kwame Raoul can be honored in person for their leadership in racial justice, IACJ has postponed the event until after the legislative sessions in Washington and Springfield are completed.
IACJ regrets any inconvenience that this postponement causes and thanks you for your understanding. Please continue to visit the IACJ website for new developments, including the new date for the event once it is confirmed.