Illinois' probation officers brace for more cuts

Jun 19, 2012

After years of cutbacks, probation officers were hoping for a funding increase in the new state budget. Instead, they're facing even deeper cuts.

The probation system is under the control of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Tom Kilbride says budgets have been slashed over the past decade.

"As a result of that, it's clogging up the court systems. Not all offenders are being properly assessed, or fully assessed. And in the low-risk category, a lot of those offenders are kind-of skating through the system."

That quote from Kilbride was from earlier this spring, when he made a personal appeal to legislative leaders to restore some of those cuts. He was not successful.

John McCabe is a lobbyist for Illinois probation officers. He says they're facing a 13-percent cut.
Counties actually pay for probation and are reimbursed, so McCabe says this is effectively a $7.5 million dollar cost-shift onto local governments. He says they'll be asking themselves a question.

“Can we afford to do this? And can we continue to listen to the broken promises of the state to be an equal partner in funding probation?”

For example, Winnebago County faces a cut of more than $300,000. Officials say that has them considering laying off a handful of probation officers.

Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn says he'll take action on the legislature's budget proposal by the end of the month.