Crossroads Adult Transitional Center
Crossroads Adult Transitional Center
Crossroads Adult Transitional Center is located on the west side of Chicago. It is a minimum-security male facility, one of four ATCs remaining within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Crossroads has been operated contractually by the non-profit Safer Foundation for more than 30 years.
In 2012, when Illinois proposed closing several Adult Transitional Centers (ATCs), JHA stated that these centers are ultimately more effective at rehabilitation than prison, and that Illinois needed more ATCs, not fewer. Unfortunately, the number of ATCs has since been reduced to just four (down from a high of 15 in 1986): Fox Valley ATC for women located in Aurora and Peoria ATC for men, both operated by IDOC, and Crossroads ATC and North Lawndale ATC, both contractually operated by the non-profit Safer Foundation (Safer) in Chicago. Currently, there are 958 beds in ATCs available in Illinois, representing less than two percent of IDOC bedspace (of these 130 spaces are for women, and 580 beds for men are operated by Safer). IDOC funding covers the cost of operating Crossroads while Safer obtains grant funding for special programming and provides for any necessary capital improvements to the facility through other funding resources. Safer operated ATCs are audited annually by IDOC.
One reason why ATCs may not have had sufficient support to avoid closure in the past is that many people misunderstand the populations served. On the one hand, there is the “not in my backyard” sentiment of people who fear living with felons in their communities and how this may affect public safety. However, the individuals housed in ATCs are strictly supervised and are required to engage in structured, positive activities, unlike the majority of IDOC inmates wholeave prison on Mandatory Supervised Release (MSR, Illinois’ “parole”). Further, inmates housed in ATCs, like Crossroads, often provide substantial volunteer services that benefit the local community.
On the other hand, some people dismiss ATCs as unnecessary because they largely house low- level drug offenders, a population that a growing number of people believe should not be incarcerated at taxpayer expense. Administrators estimated about 90% of Crossroads residents are incarcerated for drug offenses. In fact, most residents of ATCs would qualify for rarely utilized electronic detention.
The underappreciated benefit of ATCs, however, is that they provide this population with the opportunity to stabilize and restructure their lives around lawful employment, giving these individuals a chance to break free of the destructive cycle of recidivism. Administrators stressed that gainful employment facilitates successful reentry, thus keeping more people out of prison. The ATCs’ policy that mandates that residents save of a percentage of their income allows them to leave state custody with much needed resources. In contrast, most inmates leave IDOC prison custody on MSR with very little, perhaps just a bus ticket to a location near their parole site and few dollars. Moreover, many leave without a solid plan, or means to obtain employment, medical and mental health treatment, or permanent housing.
ATCs bridge the gap between incarceration and inmates’ return to the community. Historically JHA has not focused our work on this population because ATC residents, while still in state custody, have far more contact with the outside world than typical prisoners. Nonetheless, examining the successes and challenges of ATCs can teach us about the best ways to rehabilitate and prepare inmates for reentry, as well as the limits of our prisons, which are simply incapable of providing what can be accomplished in a community setting. This exploration of Illinois’ATCs is especially timely as IDOC implements its planned Risk Assets Needs Assessment (RANA) screening tool, SPIn, which will permit the agency to better consider the risks, needs, and strengths of individuals in its population and correspondingly reconsider classifications and funding allocations to promote successful reentry. Further, successful implementation of SPIn will allow IDOC to create more individualized determinations and reentry plans for inmates, as has proven successful in case management used by Safer at Crossroads.
Inmates at Crossroads are referred to as “residents,” not “offenders.” Crossroads allows incarcerated individuals to serve the final six months to two years of their sentences in a community-based, work-releasesetting. The average stay is about 12 months. On the date of the visit, there were 377 residents out of a maximum operational capacity of 380. Residents are given earned privileges and freedoms to interact with the community and prepare for reentry within a structured environment.
This report addresses the following areas: Results, Eligibility, Healthcare, Structured Environment, Employment, Positive Programming, Treatment, and Staffing.