Alternative Sentencing for Drug Offenses: An Evaluation of the First Offender Call Unified for Success (FOCUS) Program

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Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Annually, thousands are convicted for drug possession offenses in Illinois and sent to prison. Research indicates incarceration cannot effectively reduce drug use or drug crime and is not cost effective. Therefore, many states have invested in alternative sentencing or specialized programming for individuals convicted of drug crimes. This evaluation examines DuPage County’s First Offender Call Unified for Success (FOCUS) program. This program serves individuals charged with a felony drug possession for the first time. It is an alternative to prison with the dismissal of charges upon completion. The program incorporates specialized drug probation caseloads with treatment and services, a program-specific court docket with one designated judge, and drug and alcohol educational sessions. FOCUS is unique as individuals convicted of felony drug offenses are often excluded from alternative programming.