• Standard Caseload Supervision
  • Drug Treatment Court
  • Domestic Violence Intervention
  • Gang Intervention Unit
  • Intensive Drug Probation
  • Intensive Probation Supervision
  • Mental Health Unit
  • POWER Program
  • Sex Offender Program
  • Home Confinement
  • GPS Supervision
  • Community Service Unit

Standard Caseload Supervision

Probation supervision is a sentencing option in which offenders 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 offenders to comply with their sentences. When offenders 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 offenders 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 the offender's unique circumstances. Commonly used special conditions include the following:

  • victim restitution;
  • community service;
  • costs;
  • fines;
  • fees;
  • 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 offender has been placed on probation, a probation officer conducts an intake interview to gather information regarding the probationer's economic and social background. This information is used to complete the risks and needs assessment tool which evaluates several areas including academic skills, 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.

Drug Treatment Court

The Adult Probation Department is a form of enhanced court supervision provided to offenders sentenced to probation in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s drug treatment courts, which operate in the Criminal Division and in  two suburban locations, Municipal District 4 (Maywood) and Municipal District 6 (Markham).

The program in the Criminal Division is called Rehabilitative Alternative Probation (RAP) and targets non-violent probationers who are subsequently charged with a low-level felony drug charge (i.e., a class 4 felony).  If the probationer elects to participate in RAP, the new charge is dismissed, and the probationer is sentenced to RAP on the violation of probation.  The programs in Municipal Districts 4 and 6 target defendants who are identified as having substance abuse problems and have been arrested for either felony or misdemeanor offenses.  Participants in these two courts may, but do not have to be, probation violators.

While they target different populations, all of the drug treatment courts work at breaking the cycle of addiction and crime through treatment, intensive judicial supervision, an escalating system of rewards and sanctions, mandatory drug testing, and a team approach to case management among court personnel and treatment providers.  Drug treatment court probation can last from 12 to 18 months.  Probationers are supervised through three phases and are required to participate in treatment, report to a probation officer, attend court status hearings, and submit to urinalysis.  At each subsequent phase, the frequencies of these requirements are lessened.  The drug court teams administer rewards and sanctions in response to treatment progress and overall compliance with the program.  Rewards include certificates of phase completion, encouragement and praise from the judge and drug court team, reduced level of supervision, decreased urinalysis, and graduation ceremonies.  Sanctions include admonishments from the judge, increased drug testing, increased reporting, writing assignments, home confinement/curfews, observing court from the jury box, confinement in the court lock-up, and jail time.

The department contracts with treatment providers to ensure that quality treatment is readily accessible and probation fees help defray costs of treatment for offenders who could not otherwise afford it.  Many levels of treatment are provided, including detoxification, inpatient treatment (including jail-based and community-based), intensive outpatient, aftercare services, and ancillary support services.  Officers in the department’s drug court units have special training in substance abuse issues and supervise reduced caseloads.


Domestic Violence Intervention

Developed in 1997, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) addresses the risks and issues associated with domestic violence offenders.  Supervision and treatment strategies are designed to ensure offender accountability and victim safety. The program is guided by principles outlined in the Illinois Protocol for Partner Abuse Intervention 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;
  • offenders 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 in the unit are extensively trained in domestic violence issues. In addition to other probation conditions, all offenders in the unit must complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling, which is offered through carefully selected treatment providers.  Probation fees are used to defray treatment costs for indigent offenders who are referred to outside agencies.  This ensures that all offenders in the program have access to quality treatment.  The unit also offers services for victims by providing support, referrals, and information regarding the remedies available to them from the court and social service and law enforcement agencies.

Gang Intervention Unit

The Gang Intervention Unit was initiated in 1991 to provide 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)
  • Curfews
  • Enrollment in a high school or GED program (if the probationer does not have a high school degree)
  • Participation in gang awareness/intervention programs as directed by the probation officer

Intensive Drug Probation

In operation since 1991, 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, offenders must have a history of substance abuse.  Probation officers in the unit have experience and specialized training enabling them to work effectively with addicted offenders, who in addition to substance abuse usually have a number of associated problems.  In addition to standard conditions of probation those in IDP must attend substance abuse 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 offenders 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

Created in 1989, the Mental Health Unit has long been nationally recognized as a model for the supervision of offenders with serious chronic mental illnesses or developmental disabilities or both.  It is the only Medicaid certified probation-run program in the country, and it receives funding through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services. 

The unit provides specialized case management, which includes conducting clinical assessments, referring probationers for treatment and monitoring their compliance with treatment goals.  To be eligible for supervision in the program, probationers must have a diagnosis of a serious chronic mental illness or mental retardation or both.  Those who have a history of violence, or have been convicted of a sex offense, or have been found unfit to stand trial are not appropriate for the program.

The targeted diagnoses of the unit are Axis I psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, severe mood disorders, and bipolar disorder).  Nearly all probationers supervised in the unit are on psychotropic medication.   Psychiatric, economic, and social problems, which are compounded by high rates of substance abuse, make this an extremely challenging group to supervise.

Staff in the unit have mental health-related experience and training (many in the unit have advanced degrees and certifications) which allows them to better address these numerous and complex issues.  Probation officers work closely with treatment providers to ensure comprehensive case management.

Probation officers assigned to this unit perform a number of duties, including:  conducting clinical assessments; making referrals; completing clinical treatment plans; 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.  Probation officers empower mentally ill offenders 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) and increased office reporting and field visits.

Probation officers in the unit also provide supervision for probationers sentenced in Circuit Court of Cook County’s Mental Health Court.  Launched in 2004, this court targets individuals with a dual diagnosis (substance abuse and serious mental illness) who are in jail on pending charges.  Similar to drug court models, this court uses a team approach to supervision and provides treatment interventions and ancillary services that are responsive to the needs of this challenging population.

POWER Program

The POWER Program (Promotion of Women through Education and Resources) was established to better address the unique issues and challenges presented by women offenders.  Females have been one of the fastest growing populations in the criminal justice system over the past several years and an increasing body of research is showing that the circumstances and needs of  women offenders differ significantly from their male counterparts.  For example,  compared to male offenders, women are more likely to be:

  • responsible for the care of minor children;
  • be victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse;
  • suffer from mental health disorders;
  • have severe substance abuse problems;
  • suffer from co-occurring disorders;
  • benefit from nurturing, relationship-based programs;
  • be unemployed;
  • be convicted of non-violent offenses; and
  • have housing and financial problems. 

Effective programs and services must take into account these differences in a way that is suited to the psychological and social needs of women.

The unit’s probation officers are specially trained and work with caseloads of exclusively females.  The unit receives intake from the Sheriff’s Department of Women and Justice Services to improve the continuity of supervision and treatment for women released from jail and sentenced to probation.  The “Moving On” cognitive behavioral curriculum is used to supplement individual office contacts.

Adult Sex Offender Program

The Sex Offender Program has been providing specialized supervision since 1997. Through an intensive, coordinated, and comprehensive approach, the program works to hold offenders accountable, reduce reoffending, and improve the lives of victims.  The program targets individuals who have committed felony sexual offenses against adolescents or children who, at the time of the offense, were residing with the offender.  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 offenders.

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 offenders’ compliance with the program’s numerous conditions.  Offenders 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, offenders in the program are subject to the following special conditions:

  • Shall attend sex offender counseling at a court-approved treatment agency
  • Shall comply with increased office reporting, field visits, curfews, and searches of the person, home, automobile, computer and papers
  • Shall submit to polygraph testing and drug testing
  • Shall not maintain a P.O. Box address
  • Shall not reside, initiate, establish or maintain contact with the victim or any minor child except under circumstances approved in advance by the court
  • Shall not enter the premises, loiter, work or reside within 500 feet of school yards, parks, playgrounds, arcades, daycare, library, theme parks, carnival, toy stores, zoo or other places primarily used by children under the age of 18
  • Shall not accept employment or volunteer work, which will bring him/her in direct contact with minor children without permission from the court
  • Shall not have internet access except under circumstances approved in advance and in writing by the court
  • Shall not possess any pornography, erotica, and/or sexually explicit materials, and shall not access any pornography, erotica or sexually explicit services/materials via the telephone or internet
  • Shall not enter or loiter around any adult bookstores or entertainment facilities where sexually explicit materials are sold or shown

Probationers in this program are breaking through denial and accepting responsibility for their actions, they are becoming more aware of the harm they have caused others.  Moreover, they are fully aware of the legal consequences of not complying with the conditions of their probation.  In 2001, this program received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties as an innovative program exemplary of responsible and effective county government.

Home Confinement Unit

Home confinement enables offenders to be detained in their homes instead of jail. The program, established in 1990, provides the court with an intermediate sanction that promotes public safety without the monetary and social costs of incarceration. Home confinement can be court-ordered as a condition of probation, pretrial supervision, court supervision or conditional discharge, or it can be ordered as a stand alone sentence.
Offenders under home confinement are monitored through unscheduled face-to-face surveillance checks at their homes.  They may also be required to submit to random drug testing.  When an offender fails to comply with the conditions of the program, the Adult Probation Department notifies the court so the judge can make a ruling on the offender’s release status.

Allowing offenders to serve their sentence at home rather than in jail minimizes family disruption and provides them with more opportunities to obtain or continue employment and to attend education programs. Curfew schedules can be adjusted to meet the needs of those who are employed, enrolled in an academic/vocational program or participating in treatment.

The Home Confinement Unit also monitors, through the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, certain offenders who have been charged with or convicted of violating an order of protection.  Offenders in this program 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.

Each year, probationers completed about 120,000 hours of community service.

Copyright 2016 by Circuit Court of Cook County