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updated: 9/11/2012 11:47 PM

State's attorney wants 3 years to determine effectiveness of drug program

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  • Joe McMahon

    Joe McMahon


So far, 46 people have applied for Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon's pilot second chance program for first time, low-level felony drug offenders.

McMahon wants to wait until May 2013 to gauge its effectiveness and ultimately until May 2015 so he can have three years of trend data.

No one is opposing the Elgin Republican in the Nov, 6 election, so it appears he will be in a position to do just that if elected to a four-year term.

McMahon said Tuesday that the 46 cases -- 26 of which have been approved and another 20 are pending -- is a little higher than he anticipated since the program was launched last May.

"I think we have an excellent track record of giving people an opportunity and taking a chance on people," he said. "Obviously, people are going to fail, but historically that has been a minority of people who have participated."

The program is designed to give first-time arrestees facing felony charges of drug possession a chance to have the charges dropped and possibly the arrest expunged if they stay clean for 12 months, go to counseling and avoid other arrests.

Gang members, sex offenders and those on probation or parole are not eligible, and arrestees must possess less than 5 grams of a controlled substance, such as cocaine, or fewer than 100 grams of marijuana.

Participants must also pass four random drugs tests, pay court costs and give a recorded statement that essentially is a confession.

If everything goes well after 12 months, McMahon's office will drop the charges. If someone messes up, the charges can be reinstated and the taped statement used as evidence in the case.

The program is a complement to the county's longer and more intensive Drug Court Program, which is a last resort for hard-core users facing lengthy prison terms.

McMahon said the goal of the second chance program is to change people's behaviors and prevent them from becoming addicted to drugs, which could lead to other crimes such as theft and burglary so addicts can get money for the next fix.

"If we can change that, hopefully we'll see a decline in the other (crime) areas as well," he said.

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