The new data report issued by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is a bold and refreshing step toward transparency in government and criminal justice reform. For the lead prosecutor of a major county to offer such a wealth of useful and important information is practically unheard of anywhere in the country.
The report offers a snapshot of who is coming into the justice system and how cases are processed. By presenting data on more than 30,000 cases—including breakdowns of offense charges, case dispositions, sentences, and demographic information—the report offers a trove of vital information that will help inform and shape future policy and program directions.
We must also mention the leading role the State’s Attorney’s Office takes in diverting people out of the system who need not be in it.
Working with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) helped divert more than 3,000 men and women out of the front end of the justice system last year through the Cook County Deferred Prosecution Program and First-Time Offender Drug Diversion Program. In each of these programs, individuals volunteer to participate in intensive services or classes, and may be eligible to have their charges dropped or expunged once they successfully complete the program requirements.
These and similar alternative prosecution programs help relieve pressure on the justice system, save taxpayer dollars, and often give participants the opportunity to address their behavior and avoid further entanglement with the justice system.
We applaud Kim Foxx for her leadership, and are proud to work with her office to advance and accelerate efforts towards a better system of justice.
Pamela F. Rodriguez is president and CEO of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC, Inc.) and a member of Governor Rauner’s Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.