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Illinois Officials Tout Progress in Recidivism Fight

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Illinois leaders say they’ve made progress in keeping ex-offenders from going back to prison. Officials say they have attacked the issue on a number of fronts.

Governor Rod Blagojevich began the program in 2004, creating counseling, job training and drug treatment for ex-offenders. The program also included the re-opening of a prison in Sheridan, Illinois as a dedicated rehab center for drug offenders. About a dozen former prisoners from Sheridan attended an event with the governor today. Andrew Atchison is one them who says the program turned his life around.

ATCHISON: It has brought me hope to realized that I’m able to do something, that I’m able to be the man that I was supposed to be, you understand what I’m saying? And that means a great deal to me and the rest of the men that are here.

Meantime, a special commission created by the governor says the state’s overall recidivism rate has declined from more than 54-percent in 2004 to 51-percent.

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