Illinois Prison Population Is Dropping

The number of inmates in Illinois prisons has dropped by nine percent since Governor Bruce Rauner took office nearly two years ago.

Governor Rauner set a goal of reducing the prison population by 25 percent by the year 2025.

The governor says they've really tried to focus on rehabilitating offenders.
 
Efforts to rehabilitate inmates include making sure they have a state ID card as they are released from prison and identifying offenders who might benefit more from substance abuse treatment than sitting in jail.

An effort is under way in Illinois to create a data bank of so-called "super-utilizers" - people with mental illnesses and/or addictions that end up in jails, prisons and hospitals repeatedly.

John Maki, director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Informational Authority, says his group has teamed up with the Illinois Hospital Association to try to better understand who these people are. He says doctors and law enforcement don't have a way to keep track of these people who have specialized needs.
 
"They know them when they get them but they don't know how they came to them. They don't know what factors led to them ending up in the system. So by putting data together, we can create kind of a 360-degree view of that person and provide more effective services."
 
Illinois is part of Data-Driven Health and Justice, a nationwide effort launched last summer to reduce the financial and human costs associated with incarcerating people who have complex needs but don't pose a risk to public safety.

Maki says states, counties and cities across the country have started working to divert people away from the justice system and into more appropriate care.