The Probation Services Division provides services to the Chief Judges and their probation staff in Illinois' 24 Judicial Circuits. The Probation and Probation Officer's Act, at 730 ILCS 110/15(1) states: "The Supreme Court of Illinois may establish a Division of Probation Services whose purpose shall be the development, establishment, promulgation, and enforcement of uniform standards for probation services in the State, and otherwise carry out the intent of this Act."
Consistent with its statutory responsibility, the mission of the Probation Services Division is to enhance the capacity of the community corrections system in order to reduce offender recidivism and create safer communities. In carrying out this mission, the Division's training, monitoring, standards setting, and technical assistance activities extend to all aspects of the administration and operation of the 69 local probation departments or districts that serve Illinois' 102 counties. All sixteen juvenile detention centers are administered by the circuit courts.
As the primary communication link between the Division and probation and court services departments, Division employees play an integral role in achieving its mission and statutory mandates through teamwork, adopting a solution focused approach, and demonstrating professionalism. The Division is currently staffed by 34 employees, with office sites in Springfield and Chicago, and is comprised of office operational units: Field Operations; Program Operations; Data, Eligibles, and Reimbursement Vouchering Program; Interstate Compact/Intrastate Transfer; and Problem-Solving Court Operations.
Pursuant to statute, Division responsibilities include the administration of state salary reimbursement to counties for probation and detention services; review and approval of local departments’ annual probation plans; collection and analysis of statewide probation data; administration of probation employment and compensation standards; employment eligibility lists; development and implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP); monitoring and evaluation of probation programs and operations; administration of the interstate compact for adult and juvenile probationers transferring into and out of the state; design and delivery of basic and advanced training for probation and detention personnel; and staff support to circuit courts to improve the administration and operation of probation services in Illinois. During 2020, staff reviewed 920 applications for eligibility for employment/promotion. Of those reviewed, 801 were determined as meeting the eligibility requirements for employment or promotion as a probation/detention officer in Illinois. Additionally, statistical data is submitted electronically by probation and court services departments for compilation, review, and analysis to assist in policy and decision-making. Quality assurance, validity and reliability, and outcome measures continue to be Division priorities with particular emphasis on risk assessment, case planning and supervision, and targeted interventions for higher risk offenders.
In 2021 four major projects/priorities continued to guide the work of the Division personnel: 1) Initial certification and recertification reviews of problem-solving courts operational standards; 2) Conduct Operational Reviews of local probation departments and detention centers in a continuing effort to enhance policy, practice, and service provisions; 3) Continue implementation and training over 2,500 adult and juvenile probation officers in Core Correctional Practices; 4) Develop a statewide juvenile detention screening assessment tool.
Division staff, with the guidance and assistance of the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Justice and Mental Health Planning, created Problem-Solving Court Standards and a certification process for Illinois in 2015. This was expanded in 2019 when the Standards were revised and a recertification process for Illinois Problem-Solving Courts was established. Collaborative efforts with local problem-solving court teams concentrated on this process during 2021. Fifteen problem-solving courts were reviewed for certification and twenty-five problem-solving courts were reviewed for recertification by the division staff, the Justice and Mental Health Planning Committee and were approved by the Illinois Supreme Court over the course of the year. At the end of 2021, 114 of the 119 operational PSC courts in the state were certified. Division staff will continue conducting site visits to local problem-solving courts to offer technical assistance and support to these teams. All problem-solving courts will be certified in 2022 and staff will continue to review recertification applications. Multi-disciplinary training for problem-solving court team members will remain a priority. The Problem-Solving Court curricula and train-the-trainer for these courses will be completed in 2022.
Calendar year 2021 continued to see immense strides in pretrial practices reform within the Judicial Branch. Members of the Division served as liaisons to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission Pretrial Practices Implementation Task Force (Task Force), which began meeting in the summer of 2020 and continues regular, active meetings to date. As part of building a foundation for pretrial reform in Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court created the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services (OSPS) in September 2021. The OSPS will oversee pretrial operations moving forward. During the year, the Task Force and AOIC pretrial staff continued to make positive progress toward goals related to data, legislation, pretrial risk assessments and understanding current pretrial practices in the State.
Division staff also will continue the ongoing implementation of EBP through interaction with departments to develop basic and advanced knowledge through skill-based training for adult and juvenile probation officers, juvenile detention officers, supervisors, and department managers. Additionally, in 2021 Division staff worked with the Judicial College and the COPE committee to develop standardized training for all probation and court services staff.
The Division’s Interstate Compact Unit staff oversees the transfer of adult felony and qualifying misdemeanor probation cases and juvenile probation cases between states consistent with the national rules set forth by the Interstate Commission on Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) and the Interstate Commission for Juveniles (ICJ). As of December 31, 2021, a total of 5,643 (2,124 outgoing; 3,519 incoming) adult probation compact cases were under active supervision. The Interstate Compact Unit also continued to support the transfer of juvenile cases and helped train and roll out the new federal data system in the state in 2021. Besides oversight of adult and juvenile transfers, the Compact Unit’s staff continuously provides extra information and support to probation officers regarding ICAOS and ICJ through training and responses to email queries addressing questions about the transfer process.
Throughout 2021, the Division convened several planning and special focus committees and workgroups comprised of probation and court services officers, supervisors or managers. The purpose of these committees and workgroups is to collaborate with probation and juvenile detention personnel in the design and implementation of training events, or to provide expertise and practical application feedback on programming, policy and standards development, and other initiatives.
Division staff also continued to serve as liaison to the Supreme Court Probation Policy Advisory Board with the purpose of 1) Advising the AOIC on policy matters and programming in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of Illinois’ probation and court services departments; 2) Providing a formal venue for communication, review, analysis and exchange of information; and 3) Identifying opportunities, resources and strategies to advance the probation profession’s mission. Membership of the Board is comprised of probation and court services managers representing all five of Illinois’ appellate court districts. Advisement was provided on myriad policies and projects, including Core Correctional Practices Standards, Juvenile Detention Screening Assessment, and data collection.