October 9, 2010

Audit questions corrections spending

10-9-2010 Illinois:

A federal audit released Thursday questioned how the Illinois Department of Corrections spent half of a $2.2 million grant to help violent offenders adjust to life outside prison.

The review also said there was no way to say whether the program succeeded because Corrections didn’t keep statistics on its participants
, according to auditors, although one set of documents showed nearly half failed.

The Justice Department’s inspector general took issue with $1.1 million in spending of the federal grant from 2002 to this year, including $708,000 in “unallowable and unsupported payroll expenditures” to outside contractors.

Corrections spent some money for unapproved purposes, can’t document how it used other funds, or both, auditors said.

“IDOC did not ensure expenditures were adequately supported or allowable,” the audit said.

Corrections said in a response that it agreed with the findings and would “remedy” the questioned amount, meaning it would find sufficient documentation for the spending or try to recover funds from contractors.

A spokeswoman for the prison system did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The “Going Home Project” initially aimed to help 214 “serious and violent” offenders being released in Chicago by providing education, job and life skills training, and substance abuse treatment.

Auditors said they couldn’t report on the program’s success because Corrections didn’t keep any statistics, although they found documents that indicated 105 participants, or 49 percent, “failed” because they were “re-arrested, dropped out or showed no interest in class.”

Auditors’ own check found 43 percent were either charged with or convicted of new crimes.

Illinois’ overall recidivism rate in 2008 was 52.3 percent, down from 54.4 percent in 2003.

The federal Office of Justice Programs, which administered the grant, allowed Corrections to change the grant’s focus in 2008 to juvenile sex offenders throughout the state. The audit said the majority of juvenile participants still were in the program when the review was completed, so there was no report on the success of the new direction. ..Source..

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