ST. CHARLES, Ill. (CBS) — A suburban sheriff’s office is taking a progressive new approach to criminal justice reform.
Some nonviolent offenders can get out of jail and have their charges reduced by completing a rigorous drug and behavioral treatment program.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas tagged along as the first inmate was released through the program in Kane County.
Rick Swain recently said goodbye to the inmates at the Kane County Jail, where he had spent the past two years locked up on a drug charge.
I’ve got to honestly say, it’s been a rough time, man,” Swain said.
Swain has gone through extensive drug addiction and behavioral health treatments through the new Lighthouse recovery program for Kane County inmates.
He did so well that he was able to walk out of the jail Friday with an ankle bracelet.
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain’s team even landed Swain a job as a barber.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity,” Swain said. “It’s a better form of rehabilitation – and believe me, if I mess this up, it’ll be severe consequences.”
“The design is – identify the candidate, have them released on electronic monitoring through the jobs program, and continue counseling; successful completion of all that – and our wonderful states attorney is willing to reduce the charges,” Sheriff Hain said.
Swain will also avoid the massive bond payment that kept him locked up.
He was arrested with 3 to 5 grams of heroin.
Sheriff Hain said because of Swain’s criminal history from the 1990s, his bond was $750,000. Now, that goes down to zero – and the sheriff said if Swain goes six to nine months without any problems, his charges will be reduced.
McNicholas noted to Hain that some people might hear about the program and conclude that its participants are getting off easy and might reoffend.
Hain’s response was: “Look, most of these people, if not all of these people, have never received any treatment while in custody. So when we identify people that are finally getting that treatment and support who have truly turned a curve.”
“I’m really excited to go there display my talents,” Swain added.
The sheriff’s efforts also caught the attention of a production company called Skinfly Entertainment that is currently working on a docuseries on criminal justice reform.