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Article updated: 5/12/2013 5:10 PM

Kane County State's Attorney puts diversion information up front

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Kane County prosecutors want to make sure first-time offenders get the information they need for a possible second chance.

The state's attorney's office recently consolidated all the information about the county's five pretrial diversion programs on its website.

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Known by many as "second chance" programs, these are opportunities for first-time nonviolent offenders to enter into a program in which they admit their crimes, stay out of trouble for a year or more and have the chance to keep their record clear of a conviction.

State's Attorney Joe McMahon said that in recent months some defendants have asked to apply to diversion programs after litigating their cases for months and months or on the eve of trial.

Such requests typically are turned down.

"Part of diversion is acceptance of responsibility early on," McMahon said.

Still, prosecutors want to make information more available, especially for attorneys from outside Kane County who may not be familiar with the county's programs.

All applicants are screened and must be accepted into the program. If completed successfully, the state's attorney agrees to dismiss charges. But if a person fails, prosecution of the criminal case resumes.

The first diversion program began in Kane County in October 1995, and about 80 percent of the estimated 5,000 participants since then have completed to the program, according to McMahon's office.

There are five diversion programs for different types of offenses: felony/misdemeanor; misdemeanor drug and alcohol; domestic violence; felony drug; and solicitation/prostitution.

Defendants may call Michelle Halbesma, the program director, at (630) 232-3500 to learn if they meet preliminary eligibility requirements.

Group donates pillows:

Some after-hours networking recently resulted in the donation of more than 40 handmade pillows for CASA Kane County, an organization that provides specially trained court advocates for abused and neglected children whose cases are in juvenile court.

Lori Hewitt, who is CASA's director of development, met Judy Maslanka last October at a "Girls Night Out" at bb Interiors in Geneva hosted by Claudia Beebe.

Maslanka, who is a member of the Window Covering Association of America, wanted to help CASA with its mission and thought that by sewing pillows, the children could have something to put on their beds while at a foster home.

Maslanka reached out to her friends that are part of Window Covering Assocation of America. They began sewing and earlier this month, Maslanka brought more than 40 pillows back to bb interiors. For more information, visit casakanecounty.org or call (630) 444-3107.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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