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Outside agencies to study effectiveness of county diversion program

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon knows from internal review and anecdotal evidence that the diversion programs offered through his office work.

But, he told reporters gathered Tuesday for a monthly briefing, eventually those ideas need to be tested.

By early next year, McMahon said, the State’s Attorney’s Office should know how effective – or ineffective – the original of the five diversion programs is. It is partnering with Aurora University and the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to study the recidivism rate among participants.

“I want some outside eyes looking at this,” McMahon said.

The agencies will evaluate the diversion program for felony nonviolent first-time offenders, McMahon said. Crimes that fall into that category, he said, include retail theft, forgery, burglary, deceptive practices, credit card fraud and criminal damage to property.

The goal of the diversion program is to hold people accountable for their conduct and to modify behavior so the criminal activity is a “one-and-done” event in their life, McMahon said.

Of the 1,071 people who participated in the program between 2005 and 2010, a random sample of 317 will be studied, McMahon said.

In addition to evaluating the participants’ performance in the diversion program, McMahon said, the agencies will look at their behavior in the three years following completion. Convictions will be measured.

“Have they re-offended?” he said.

The results should be available early next year, McMahon said. The findings could be used to modify the program, he said, noting they might indicate a need for more intensive counseling or community service.

In other news, the State’s Attorney’s Office is planning a no-refusal operation for Nov. 27.

No-refusal operations are designed to expedite the booking process for those charged with driving under the influence. During a no-refusal event, police work with an assistant state’s attorney to quickly obtain a search warrant to compel a DUI suspect to submit a blood alcohol level test.

This will be the second year a no-refusal event will be held the day before Thanksgiving, McMahon said. He said 17 agencies in Kane County participated in last year’s operation, which netted 14 DUI charges.

“That is a significant number,” he said. “It’s a good reason why we should do this again.”

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