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Task force unveils plan to keep people out of jail

<span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; line-height: normal;">URBANA -- Months of research on how to keep Champaign County's jails from overcrowding was finally heard Tuesday night.</span>
URBANA -- Months of research on how to keep Champaign County's jails from overcrowding was finally heard Tuesday night. The Community Justice Task Force showcased its ideas to the county board.

Some feel the 80 page report doesn't address all the problems. The task force was asked to look at three ideas: prevent incarceration, keep those who've been released from jail from landing back there and properly rehab those currently behind bars.

The task force created ideas to address those problems, now it's matter of figuring out which ones to choose and how to pay for them. Appreciation wasn't hard to come by for the Community Justice Task Force. But getting everyone on board with their ideas is another story.

"To me I don't see in sight that's going to correct them the way we going," said board member Lloyd Carter, Jr.

"My contention is that you missed a big part of the problem. The problem is getting to kids before they get in trouble," said Gary Matthews, Mahomet, during public comment.

Preventing incarceration was researched, but instead the task force is leaning on other methods to keep people out of the county jails. A few ideas include increasing community sanctions, meaning less time behind bars and more time doing public service as punishment.

Restorative justice was another idea. It includes having an offender meet with victims face to face to truly understand the impact of their crimes.

"I feel they've come up with a great program of action that will help us to secure the safety of our community even more than it has been," said board chair Al Kurtz.

Funding all of the tasks force's ideas would require more than $2,000,000. Money they say should be coming from the public safety sales tax.

The study showed only 5% of its revenues actually go towards keeping people out of jail.

"What we can do is discuss on how we may be able to redistribute some of those dollars to take affect once we get the final report," Kurtz said.

Five percent is the minimum amount of revenue the public safety sales tax can allocate towards prevention. That's because right now, more than half of the revenue is paying off debts related to the courthouse and juvenile detention center.

To read the full report click here.
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