The Illinois Supreme Court has created an advisory board to focus on probation, an aspect of the state’s justice system that’s seen significant budget cuts in recent years.
In an order filed Monday, the justices appointed 15 probation officials, including one from St. Clair County, to the Supreme Court Probation Policy Advisory Board. The board’s formation and appointments will take effect Dec. 1.
Michael Buettner, director of court services and probation for the 20th Judicial Circuit, said he is excited to serve on the board and represent his colleagues in the Fifth District.
“I’m really looking forward it,” Buettner said. “I think it’s really good and something that needs to be done. I appreciate the justices putting this together.”
The purpose of the board, according to the Supreme Court order, is to advise the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) on probation policy and programs. The AOIC oversees probation throughout Illinois and uses a portion of its state funding to reimburse counties for providing these services.
The justices also charged the board with providing “a formal venue for communication, review, analysis and exchange of information,” and finding “opportunities, resources and strategies to advance probation’s mission.”
Buettner, who has worked in the circuit’s probation department for 29 years, said “funding is the big issue right now.”
State funding for probation services has been on a steady decline for the past decade, dropping from about $78 million in Fiscal Year 2002 to $47 million this fiscal year.
The Supreme Court, however, reallocated about $8 million in its budget to further fund probation services, Buettner said, calling Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride “a real friend to probation.”
The creation of the advisory board, he said, shows that the Supreme Court understands the importance probation services play in the justice system.
Buettner said he expects the board will meet sometime next month and discuss a variety of matters affecting probation, including resources, specialized programs and how legislation affects local jurisdictions.
In addition to Buettner, the following probation officials will serve on the board: David Beery, Michael E. Costigan, P. Carl Brown, Margi Gilmour, Rosemarie Gray, Thomas Gregory, Patricia Hayden, Mark Krueger, Cheryl A. Meyers, Francine M. Neal, Jesus Reyes, Michael J. Rohan, Michael J. Shaughnessy and David Vanlandegen.