Chief justice: Rauner budget would end probation for 47,000

  • Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman asked lawmakers to spare courts from budget cuts Thursday.

      Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman asked lawmakers to spare courts from budget cuts Thursday. Gilbert R. Boucher | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/27/2015 12:53 PM
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of people who would go without probation. The correct number is 47,000

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman urged lawmakers Thursday to preserve the state's probation program so 47,000 people who should be on probation aren't left unsupervised in their communities.

Probation services help "restore offenders to useful citizenship," Garman told a Senate budget committee Thursday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A "failure to fully realize benefits of probation jeopardizes our community."

For youths, probation provides opportunities to build necessary skills and address behavioral and psychological issues, Garman says.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed cutting money for the court system in a budget plan that would take effect July 1.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, a Mahomet Republican, says he understands the importance of the judicial branch and drug courts, but has a hard time with their budget requests at a time when the state is strapped for cash.

"We are all in this together," Rose said. "I have a hard time, with all due respect to our co-equal branch of government, when they say we can't be part of that solution."

While Rauner's budget proposes a 10 percent decrease in funding across the board for the judicial branch, lawmakers by law can't cut judges' salaries.

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That means juvenile and adult probation services receive the brunt of the entire system's cuts, Garman said.

Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, agrees that probation services are important in helping to reduce the number of people who are repeat offenders.

"We run the risk of them reoffending because they're not completing what they need to do if they don't have the probation program," Kotowski said.

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