A Look at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s First Offender Program

Lou Bianch explains the First Offender Program in 2010.

I read a story in the Daily Herald on election day last week about a person in McHenry  County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s First Offender Program.

The headline was “Antioch woman charged with forging state’s attorney documents.”

First announced in 2007, Bianchi rolled out the First Offender program in 2010 with a press conference in the Grand Jury Room.

The next anyone heard of it was when Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen picked one of the very cases Bianchi alluded to in his press conference as reason for criminally indicting Bianchi.

The Special Prosecutor’s research was shoddy.

But back to the Daily Herald article.

I asked the State’s Attorney about the case and got the following reply from Michael Combs, Chief of the Criminal Division:

“You asked Lou for his reaction to an article in the daily herald.

“I would point out that the article was misleading in that it states that Misty Jurs was found guilty of writing bad checks.

“That is incorrect.

“Nobody in the first offender program is convicted.

“They are given the opportunity to complete the program and, in exchange, if they are successful the case is dismissed.

“To date 19 people have successfully completed our program and 8 have failed.

“In Misty Jurs’ case it was brought to our attention by her employer that she was ‘doctoring’ documents which were placed on our letterhead.

She scanned our letterhead onto her computer and then wrote a letter stating she had been in court.

“This information was false and when we learned of this we proactively contacted the appropriate police department so it could be investigated.

“The daily herald article fails to mention our role in this case.

“We take our first offender program very seriously and we want to give people who commit non-violent crimes for the first time an opportunity for rehabilitation because it makes them more productive citizens.

“That being said we certainly cannot allow a participant to misrepresent information to her employer and had an obligation to turn that over to the police.

“It is unfortunate that Misty Jurs took action that caused her termination, but many other people have successfully completed our program which proves that is working effectively.”


A Look at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s First Offender Program — 1 Comment

  1. This is a good program. The percentage of success is very good.

    Not everyone will succeed but jailing all of them would only produce more damaged individuals and more problems.

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