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New Task Force Expected To Keep People From Ending Up Back In Jail

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago City Council is expected to move towards creation of a task force to keep people who are freed from jail or prison from ending up back behind bars.

Alderman James Cappleman, one of the resolution's sponsors, said many of those in Cook County jail suffer from mental illness. And one reason they go back to jail is that when they are first released, there are few services to help them. WBBM's Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

Alderman Emma Mitts said many should not have been jailed in the first place.

"What in the world are jailhouses going to do for a person, who has a drug addiction problem, needs medication and you incarcerate them. They need some help," she said.

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer said the problem is compounded when they cannot get help upon release.

"We say we don't want people to go back to jail, but we make it almost impossible for them to get a job because ban the box provisions and constant credit checks and the difficulties we put up," Gainer said.

So, Cappleman said, an inter-governmental task force can determine how those released can be helped.

"When the city, county and state are working together we can do a better job coordinating our services, to produce great results," Cappleman said.

And officials said helping low-level offenders is more cost-effective than jailing them.

The resolution was passed by the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

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