Probation Officers Face More Funding Challenges

After a decade of steep funding cuts, probation officers were hoping to turn things around in next year’s proposed budget. Instead they’re facing a 13 percent cut.

Probation is used instead of jail or prison time … often for non-violent drug offenses.

John McCabe, a lobbyist for probation officers across Illinois, says monitoring and drug treatment is critical for those low-level offenders.

“If you just send them into a corrections department, where there’s no funding for substance abuse and they’re just back out on the street in no time, then they’re just going to reoffend and reoffend and reoffend,” McCabe says.

Probation officers are paid through counties, which then get reimbursed by the state.

McCabe says next year’s proposed reduction of $7.5 million is essentially a cost-shift from the state onto local government.

McCabe says Illinois already shed about 600 probation officers through attrition and layoffs over the last five years.

— Brian Mackey

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