New bill may help reduce domestic violence

Violent crimes have been thrust into the spotlight recently by national and local media. Charges of this type can have devastating consequences and can ruin reputations. Domestic violence charges cover a wide range of categories. Almost any crime can turn into a domestic offense; all that is needed is an intimate relationship between the victim and accused. In order to meet the problem of violent crimes head on, Illinois lawmakers recently signed a bill that would allow those convicted of certain crimes to enter rehabilitation programs instead of jail.

The new legislation could increase the number of people in court-ordered rehabilitation programs by almost 50 percent. Advocates say the new bill could greatly reduce the population of Illinois prisons while decreasing crime and saving money. According to one person who helped write the bill, a violent crime is often a symptom of behavioral health issues.

Instead of throwing the convicted in jail, now they are able to receive much-needed help at the root of the issue. Recent statistics say that, within three years of release, 48 percent of those released from jail will commit another crime. A criminal justice professor believes that access to rehabilitation programs could reduce the chances of recurring crimes. Some say the new bill represents an important shift in criminal justice reform.

Any criminal charge can be humiliating and affect a person for the rest of his or her life. However, there is assistance available. Those in Illinois who have been charged with domestic violence have a right to seek legal counsel. An experienced criminal defense attorney can increase the odds of a reduction in charges while protecting personal rights.