Cook County Redeploy program works to break the cycle

A new initiative in Cook County’s criminal justice system, the Cook County Redeploy program, is designed to address serious offenses committed by minors. CBS 2’s Tara Molina explored this program, which combines probation with specialized treatment for youth and their families involved in serious crimes, including felonies like carjacking and armed robbery.

Monica Montgomery, Youth Outreach Services’ program manager and a Chicago native with two decades of experience in Juvenile Justice, plays a key role in this effort. Working with these young individuals from morning till evening, Montgomery emphasized the importance of instilling hope in them, a challenging task considering their diverse home environments. The program’s uniqueness lies in its intensive outpatient treatment that extends beyond the individual youth to encompass their family issues as well.

After two years of planning and backed by a state grant of over $6 million, the Redeploy program started last month. Its wraparound approach not only addresses the youth’s problems but also involves assessing and counseling entire families. One of the program’s objectives, as Montgomery pointed out, is that successful completion can lead to the vacation of probation by judges.

The urgency of this program is underscored by the increasing numbers of minors on probation in Cook County, with a significant jump observed over the past year. Mark Werner, leading the Redeploy program for Cook County under the Chief Judge’s Office, stresses that this is not a lenient program but a rigorous one aimed at both rehabilitating the youth and ensuring public safety.

While it’s too early to gauge the program’s effectiveness, it has engaged evaluation partners to monitor its impact. By the end of the year, the program expects to work with at least 120 kids and has already received 16 referrals. Mary Wisniewski, a spokesperson for the Chief Judge’s Office, clarifies that the Redeploy program operates under the Chief Judge’s Office and is not a part of probation.