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Governor agrees to restore $16 million of $36 million in probation cuts

Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday he is restoring $16 million to the budget of the Illinois Supreme Court to aid probationary services in the state, which had been cut 44 percent in the current budget. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald expressed gratitude to the governor. Earlier this month, the Chief Justice had written to the Governor, urging restoration of funds for the sake of public safety. He and Administrative Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs of the Illinois Courts also had met with the Governor's chief of staff to discuss restoration of funds. "I am grateful to the Governor for the consideration he has given to restoring badly needed funds for statewide probation services," the Chief Justice said. "The partial restoration will help probation officers around the state in supervising the thousands of defendants placed on probation each year." In making the announcement in Chicago, the Governor noted: "Probation officers are critical to public safety in Illinois. While I am asking for shared sacrifice across state government, I will never compromise on safety. This funding will help keep our probation officers on the job, supervising ex-offenders." Through its budget, the Supreme Court helps fund the-65probation departments throughout Illinois, reimbursing counties for up to 65 percent of the salaries of probation officers. In this fiscal year's budget, the probation funds were cut from $65.1 million to $36.5 million. Governor Quinn's restoration, using his lump sum appropriation authority, increases the amount of funds available for probation services to about $52.5 million. "Weare grateful to have had the opportunity to present to the Governor an overview of the Supreme Court's responsibilities in administering Illinois' probation system and to discuss the impact of the funding shortfall," said Ms. Cobbs. "The wise allocation by the Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the restored funds will aid probation services around the state to greater insure public safety in these difficult economic times. We are thankful." This year's cuts to probation services came on top of cutbacks in previous years. For example, $75.4 million had been appropriated for probation services in 2002, more than twice the amount initially appropriated this year. In 2008, Illinois probation officers supervised more than 103,000 adults and nearly 16,000 juveniles. They also conducted more than 66,000 investigations and staffed 16 juvenile detention centers with an average daily population of 498.
Posted on September 16, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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