Criminal Justice Reform

Illinois is currently one of the top 15 states in the nation when it comes to costs per prisoner for those who are incarcerated within the state. This is not one of the top 15 lists any state wants to be on. The amount of money spent on crime prevention seems to be lost on politicians who continue to push  the agenda that everyone who commits a crime needs to be incarcerated. The numbers are really staggering when you put those figures into dollars and cents.

  • Our criminal justice system is totally out of wack. The prison system needs a complete overhaul.
  • In 1998, 42,156 inmates were housed daily, on average in Illinois.
  • In 2009 that number was just over 45,000 average inmates housed daily.
  • With the average cost per inmate of $25,000, the state of Illinois spent more than a billion dollars to house these offenders. The majority being non-violent offenders.
  • Almost 70 percent of all Illinois inmates are in prison for non-violent crimes and about 50 percent of all offenders serve six months or less.
  • In 2013, there were approximately 48,887 daily inmates incarcerated in Illinois; prisons at 150% capacity. At a cost of $38,268 per inmate (
  • In 2013, 45 percent of Illinois prisoners were incarcerated for a violent offense” (
  • The state paid nearly 2 billion dollars in housing these offenders, 55% of whom were incarcerated for non-violent charges.
  • The current daily inmate population in Illinois is 45,551 with an average cost per inmate of $38,268.
  • Currently the state is paying $1.7 billion dollars to keep these offenders jailed when research shows that “when low-level non-violent offenders are incarcerated instead of given supervised release, they are more likely to commit new crimes once they are released from prison.” (
  • If the state of Illinois were to invest into educating and rehabilitating people instead of simply locking them up, there is a very good chance that recidivism rate would drastically decrease. In 2011, the recidivism rate was over 51% (
  • Our law enforcement community is getting increasingly frustrated because the system actually promotes more people to join gangs while they are in prison.

It would make more sense to provide these nonviolent offenders some sort of rehabilitation instead of locking them up and just hoping they have learned their lesson. One thing to think about when breaking it down into dollars and cents is rehabilitation through monitoring and education. The average cost for tuition at DePaul University per year is around $36,000.00.  How can it be cheaper to send someone to a private University than it is to put them in a cage?

Giving a person who made a simple nonviolent mistake a chance to change his or her life seems to be the more common sense way to handle not only the current prison over population, but also the rising cost of housing these inmates. This isn’t being soft on crime.  It’s recognizing that what we are doing isn’t working.


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