Governor Pat Quinn Threatens to Close Two Drug Treatment Prisons, 2,200 Addicted Offenders Will Return to Illinois Communities

(Chicago, IL) —Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed closure of Illinois’ two drug treatment prisons would result in the release of 2,200 offenders to communities across the state, with their addictions intact and no drug treatment available to them.

This would be only one consequence of the Governor’s cuts, according to advocates at TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), which provides statewide services for non-violent, drug-involved offenders.

TASC Executive Vice President Pam Rodriguez

TASC Executive Vice President Pam Rodriguez

The Governor’s “doomsday budget” would eliminate addiction healthcare services to at least 98,000 people, and would close the highly effective and cost-saving Sheridan and Southwestern drug treatment prison and reentry programs, which would return more than 2,200 offenders to communities.

“We are taking the Governor’s warning very seriously,” said TASC Executive Vice President Pam Rodriguez. “But during these harsh economic times, it would be absurd to cut a gaping hole in the public safety net, a net that actually saves money and reduces crime.”

The elimination of drug treatment funding would handcuff judges’ ability to sentence non-violent offenders to supervised treatment. Without treatment, the costly cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration continues unabated.

According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, drug offenders on probation who complete treatment are one-third less likely to commit crimes post-probation compared those not ordered treatment.

The Southwest Illinois and Sheridan prison reentry programs, where prisoners receive drug treatment combined with continuing supervision and services after their release, also reduce crime. Since the Sheridan program opened in 2004, research shows that successful participants are 40 percent less likely than other parolees to return to prison.

TASC provides drug treatment placement and recovery support services to probationers across Illinois, as well as to parolees released from programs such as Sheridan.

“Illinois has been a national leader in implementing programs that stop the cycle of drugs and crime,” said Rodriguez. “With a stroke of a pen, these programs could disappear, but the health and social problems would not.”

TASC supports an Illinois income tax and other appropriate taxes that will allow the State to continue essential services. TASC supports a nickel-a-drink alcohol tax, as proposed by State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) in HB 4557, that would raise $254 million.

Other House sponsors include: Dave Winters, Kathy Ryg, Naomi Jakobsson, Deborah Mell, Greg Harris, Esther Golar and Maria “Toni” Berrios.

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