Grant Enables Lake County to Reform Justice

by Long Hwa-shu

Lake County has been named a recipient of the Safety and Justice, a $100-million national initiative funded by the John D. and Catherine T. Foundation to reduce over incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

Lake County will get short-term support of $50,000 under the program and is eligible for future funding. The county will receive support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms.

We will see a reduction in taxpayer money to house jail mates. This will certainly have a positive impact on the high population of jail inmates.”Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran

Lake County was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from around the country. Recipients will design and test innovative local justice reforms to drive down jail usage and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the local justice systems.

In announcing the program, Julia Stasch, MacArthur president, said, “Demand for reform at the local level is considerable and growing, as evidenced by the number, diversity and creativity of the applications we received.

Lake County will focus its innovations on intensive case management to 30 high utilizers of the Lake County Jail, those who have been frequent inmates of the jail, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

This intensive case management will be used to motivate the high uses upon reentry to the community. Upon release, they will be provided a “warm handoff” of individualized services based on needs with the goal of keeping them from re-arrest and re-incarceration.

Sheriff Mark Curran said by providing intensive case management, “We will see a reduction in taxpayer money to house jail mates. This will certainly have a positive impact on the high population of jail inmates.”

“With this grant, we are designing a method to get high jail utilizers and those with mental illness the proper health care they need and into the appropriate community-based programs,” said Undersheriff Raymond Rose.

Lake County Board chairman Aaron Lawlor noted that “our jails have become de factor mental health hospitals” with so many people “end up homeless or cycle needlessly through our emergency room.”

“It is not humane or cost-effective. This funding is an important step in tackling mental health challenges in our criminal justice system,” he said.

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