- Standard Caseload Supervision
- Specialty Courts (Problem-Solving Courts)
- Domestic Violence Supervision
- Gang Intervention Unit
- Intensive Drug Probation
- Intensive Probation Supervision
- Mental Health Unit
- Sex Offender Program
- Home Confinement
- GPS Supervision
- Community Service Unit
Standard Caseload Supervision
Probation supervision is a sentencing option in which probationers are required to comply with specific court-ordered conditions of supervision while residing in the community. Through guidance, surveillance, and referrals to service providers, probation officers assist probationers to comply with their sentences. When probationers fail to comply, they are either subject to administrative sanctions imposed by the probation officer or they are brought back to court for a violation of probation hearing.
Standard probation involves different levels of supervision and utilizes numerous conditions and intermediate sanctions to hold probationers accountable and to provide them with opportunities to make positive changes in their lives. Approximately 88 percent of probationers in the Adult Probation Department are sentenced to standard supervision as opposed to specialized or intensive supervision.
Basic conditions of standard probation include the following:
- reporting to a probation officer;
- allowing a probation officer to make home visits;
- refraining from further criminal activity;
- not possessing a weapon;
- not leaving the state without permission from the court; and
- refraining from the use, possession and sale of illegal drugs.
In addition to these basic conditions, most probationers are subject to a combination of special conditions tailored to their unique circumstances. Commonly used special conditions include the following:
- victim restitution;
- community service;
- drug testing;
- drug treatment;
- home confinement/curfews;
- mental health counseling; and
- educational programs.
Proper assessment of the particular risks and needs of each probationer is key to developing an effective supervision strategy. After an individual has been placed on probation, a probation officer conducts an intake interview to gather information regarding the probationer's background. This information is used to complete the risks and needs assessment tool which evaluates several areas including education, employment history, financial stability, criminal record, attitude, drug and alcohol use, peer and family relations and mental and physical health. With the guidance of this tool, the probation officer determines the probationer's strengths and weaknesses and develops a plan that will adequately address them. The plan specifies a reporting schedule and may involve referrals for treatment, job placement, educational development or any other type of service that would be beneficial to the probationer.
Specialty Courts (Problem-Solving Courts)
The department provides enhanced supervision to individuals sentenced in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s various specialty court programs, also known as problem-solving courts. These include drug treatment courts, mental health courts, veterans’ courts, and two programs funded through Adult Redeploy Illinois. Probation officers assigned to these courtrooms receive specialized training in the appropriate areas and work with reduced caseloads. The courts operate under evidence-based models including the essential tenets of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Defining Drug Courts, The Key Components, the Ten Key Components of Veterans Treatment Court, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Ten Essential Elements of Mental Health Courts. Specialty courts employ treatment, ancillary services, an escalating system of rewards and sanctions, intensive judicial supervision, and a team approach to case management to address the risks and needs of the challenging populations they serve. Specialty court team members include the judge, assistant state’s attorney, public defender, probation officer, and representatives from the treatment/service community.
Domestic Violence Supervision
Specialized domestic violence supervision addresses the risks and issues associated with those convicted of domestic violence offenses. Supervision and treatment strategies are designed to ensure probationer accountability and victim safety. Supervision is guided by principles outlined in the Illinois Protocol for Partner Abuse Intervention (PAIP) Programs. Examples of these principles include the following:
- abuse can never be condoned under any circumstances;
- violence is a learned behavior and alternatives to violence can be taught;
- violence is a choice and offenders are culpable for poor decisions and abusive conduct;
- probationers must be made aware of the emotional, social and economic costs of their behavior; and
- social and cultural beliefs can support and therefore perpetuate abuse.
Probation officers with this assignment are extensively trained in domestic violence issues. In addition to other probation conditions, the vast majority of probationers must complete 26 weeks of Partner Abuse Intervention Programming (PAIP), which is offered through carefully selected service providers. Probation fees are used to defray PAIP service costs for indigent probationers who are referred to outside agencies. This ensures that all probationers have access to quality services.
Gang Intervention Unit
The Gang Intervention Unit provides intensive supervision as well as educational and treatment services for probationers who are gang members. Probation officers in the unit receive intensive gang awareness training and perform extensive fieldwork and surveillance. Much of their supervision strategy involves working with family members and strengthening the probationers’ ties to prosocial relationships and activities. Officers also work closely with the Chicago Police Department. An interagency agreement with CPD, which calls for the sharing of information on probationers supervised in the unit, enables police officers to assist in the monitoring of probation conditions, including curfews, and increases both departments’ awareness of gang activity.
In addition to the standard conditions of probation, the following special conditions are mandatory for all probationers sentenced to the program:
- Increased reporting
- Frequent field visits
- Random drug testing
- 130 hours of community service (unless the probationer is a full-time student in an academic or vocational program)
- Enrollment in a high school or GED program (if the probationer does not have a high school degree)
Intensive Drug Probation
Intensive Drug Probation (IDP) uses intensive supervision, drug testing, and referrals to drug treatment to change long-term habits of high-risk drug addicted probationers. The unit recognizes that to change someone's behavior, addiction to drugs and alcohol must be addressed first. It is not uncommon for some individuals who are supervised in the unit to have gone their entire adult lives under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
To be eligible for the program, individuals must have substance use disorders. Probation officers in the unit have experience and specialized training enabling them to work effectively with addicted individuals, who in addition to substance use disorders usually have a number of associated problems. In addition to standard conditions of probation those in IDP must attend substance use disorder treatment, report more frequently, and submit to random drug testing. Upon successful completion of 12 months of IDP, probationers are transferred to standard caseload for the duration of their sentences.
Intensive Probation Supervision
The Intensive Probation Supervision Program (IPS) was established in 1984 as a program for high-risk probationers convicted of serious felony offenses. The program balances strict surveillance with intervention strategies aimed at the unique risks and needs of each case. Probationers sentenced to IPS are required to comply with rigorous conditions that include frequent reporting, curfews, drug testing, community service, and any other special conditions deemed appropriate by the court. Probation officers work in pairs with reduced caseloads.
Guidelines for IPS have been established by the Administration Office of the Illinois Courts, the administrative arm of the Supreme Court of Illinois. These guidelines require the department to conduct eligibility screenings on cases recommended for IPS. This process includes conducting a social history investigation, reviewing the conditions of IPS with the defendant, obtaining a full criminal history and making a field visit to the defendant’s residence to discuss the program with family members and/or other individuals living with the defendant. Defendants are generally deemed appropriate for IPS if they indicate they are aware of and willing to comply with the conditions, are being sentenced for a probationable offense, and are residing within the county. Once a case is accepted, an IPS officer meets again with the probationer to develop a supervision strategy that addresses court mandates and other issues identified through a risks and needs assessment. After successfully completing 12 months of IPS, probationers serve the remainder of their sentences on standard probation.
Mental Health Unit
The Mental Health Unit provides specialized supervision for probationers with serious chronic mental illnesses who are sentenced to misdemeanor or felony probation across Chicago and all of the court's suburban districts. Those who have a history of violence, or have been convicted of a sex offense, are not appropriate for the program. Staff in the unit have mental health-related experience and training (many in the unit have advanced degrees and certifications) so they can better address these numerous and complex issues. Officers work closely with treatment providers in the community to ensure comprehensive clinical case management. Officers perform a number of duties including the following: conducting clinical assessments; developing supervision plans targeting criminogenic risk factors as well as needs; making referrals; monitoring compliance with probation conditions, medication requirements, and other treatment objectives; helping probationers to obtain disability benefits, housing, Supplemental Security Income and medical cards; and serving as advocates for probationers in their efforts to obtain mental health services. Officers empower clients by assisting them to become more self-sufficient consumers of services that are available to them. Mandatory special conditions of the program include participation in mental health services (ranging from outpatient counseling to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, drug testing) and increased office reporting and field visits.
Sex Offender Program
Through an intensive, coordinated, and comprehensive approach, the Sex Offender Unit works to hold probationers accountable, reduce reoffending, and improve the lives of victims. The program targets individuals who have committed felony sexual offenses against adolescents or children who are family members. Long-term treatment, close collaboration with carefully selected service agencies, and rigorous court-imposed conditions are key components of the program. This combination of elements is necessary in order to change the attitudes and behaviors of this high-risk and highly manipulative group of probationers.
Sex offending is a complex and serious social problem. Its impact on victims can be devastating and can last a lifetime. Offenders who victimize children present numerous challenges to probation officers. Perpetrators can be extremely deceptive about the risk they actually pose because they are skilled at manipulating others and at denying and minimizing their behavior. Moreover, they tend to be more outwardly cooperative than other probationers, further masking the risk they present.
To meet these challenges, probation officers in the unit are extensively trained in sex offender issues, and work closely with treatment providers to monitor probationers' compliance with the program’s numerous conditions. Individuals in the program receive quality treatment that includes assessment, polygraph analysis, and group/individual therapy that utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention techniques. Funds from the department’s Probation Services Fees Budget are used to defray the costs of treatment, making treatment accessible to those who could not otherwise afford it.
In addition to the standard conditions of probation, probationers in the program are subject to the following special conditions:
- increased office reporting;
- field visits;
- searches of home and computer;
- drug testing;
- restrictions against residing/loitering near day care centers, schools, playgrounds, or any place used primarily by minors;
- restrictions against possessing any pornographic or sexual materials; and
- compliance with the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act
The Home Confinement Unit monitors probationers and pretrial defendants who have been ordered by the court to serve a period of home detention and or abide by a curfew or who have been ordered to GPS monitoring under Public Act 95-0773 (also known as the Cindy Bischof Law) and Public Act 98-1012. Radio frequency (RF) electronic monitoring equipment is used to assist in monitoring home detention/curfew cases, and GPS technology is used to monitor those monitored under Public Acts 95-0773 and 98-1012.
Allowing individuals to serve their pretrial time or sentences at home, instead of in jail or prison, has several advantages: the social and economic costs of incarceration are avoided; individuals are held accountable; and individuals receive more opportunities to obtain or continue employment and to attend treatment/education programs that support rehabilitation.
Those being monitored with RF electronic monitoring equipment include individuals who have been convicted of, or who are awaiting trial for, a variety of felony charges including, but not limited to, drug-related charges, sex offenses, DUI, battery, weapons charges, and theft. Those being monitored with GPS are individuals charged with an offense against an intimate partner (e.g., violation of an order of protection, domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, stalking). These individuals are ordered to wear a GPS tracking device to help monitor compliance with orders to stay away from the complaining witness, the complaining witness’s home/workplace, or any other protected address specified on the order of protection.
Global Position System (GPS) Supervision
In 2009, new legislation took effect in Illinois that allows the court to order a defendant/probationer charged with or convicted of violating an order of protection to GPS monitoring as a condition of bond/probation/ conditional discharge.
The GPS Monitoring Program is administered by staff of the Circuit Court of Cook County Adult Probation Department. Under the program, a stationary exclusionary zone is established around all protected addresses of the complaining witness/victim. A GPS device is affixed to the defendant/probationer who is ordered to maintain a minimum distance of 2,500 feet away from the complaining witness/ victim at all times. A complaining witness/victim is offered the option to carry a GPS device if he or she wishes to be notified if the defendant/probationer enters an exclusionary zone. If a complaining witness/victim opts to carry the GPS device, he or she is required to carry a cell phone at all times to facilitate notification. The Adult Probation Department will provide a cell phone to a complaining witness/victim who does not own one for the duration of the GPS order.
If the defendant/probationer enters an exclusionary zone, local law enforcement officers are contacted immediately (as well as the complaining witness/victim if he or she opted for notification). The law enforcement officers will respond to the complaining witness/victim’s location to conduct a well-being check and determine if further action is warranted. Adult Probation Department staff will provide information to the court regarding all violations of the GPS Monitoring Program.
Community Service Unit
Community service is a condition of probation that requires probationers to perform services without compensation for the benefit of the community. This sanction not only provides a service to the community but also enhances accountability and helps instill responsibility in the probationer. Community service can be ordered by a judge or by the supervising probation officer through the Adult Probation Department's in-house administrative sanctions protocol.
The Community Service Unit places probationers at a variety of work sites throughout Cook County. The sites are either not-for-profit organizations or government agencies. The type of work performed by probationers typically involves neighborhood clean-up, graffiti removal and janitorial services.
Officers assigned to the Community Service Unit are responsible for placing, monitoring and evaluating all community service mandates. The needs and safety of the community as well as the skills of the probationer are considered when making placements.