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Alternative sentencing in Chicago for nonviolent crimes

If you have committed a nonviolent crime, you do not need to automatically assume you will have to serve some jail time. Due to the overcrowding of jails and prisons, more alternative sentencing options are becoming available for certain offenders in Chicago.

Going to prison is unlikely to make any positive changes in your life. Therefore, it is important that you hire an attorney who is very familiar with these more effective alternatives and how to get you into them.


The Sheriff's Work Alternative Program in Cook County involves supervised manual labor to benefit public works projects and nonprofits. This community service option is for those who have committed misdemeanors and traffic offenses, with a similar program available for juveniles.

Drug treatment 

Several drug treatment programs are accessible in Cook County for different types of drug offenders. Examples are:

  • Drug Court Treatment Program: If you have violated your current probation, you may be able choose to enter a gender-specific, two-year probation program to treat your addiction.
  • State’s Attorney’s Drug School Diversion Program: For first-time, low-level offenders, these classes educate attendees on how using drugs and getting involved in the judicial system affect their lives.
  • Felony Mental Health Court: This two-year program is for those with mental health issues but no history of violent or sexual crimes. The goal is to treat the mental illness and establish stability in life to prevent repeat offenses.
  • Veterans Treatment Court: Those who have served in the armed forces are likelier to have mental health issues and traumatic brain injuries, which can contribute to criminal activity. Participants receive support from both national and state departments of Veterans Affairs.

Addressing the root of cause of criminal engagement is more effective at reducing recidivism.

Deferred prosecution

If you face charges for a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor for the first time, you may eligible for the Deferred Prosecution Program. Completing the program results in dropped charges.

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