In law enforcement, one of the more persistent and challenging issues is dealing with motorists who drive under the influence. We all know the tragedy this can unleash, especially as summer parties, graduations and Fourth of July celebrations roll around.
One big area of my focus, as an Ogle County prosecutor, is the repeat offender, because repeat offenders are more likely to have an underlying problem and are often the ones involved in fatal crashes.
That is why I’m proud to announce the implementation of the Accepting Responsibility is Mandatory, or ARM, program.
Participants in this intensive new program spend a weekend participating in lectures, group sessions, presentations, team building, journal writing, family sessions, and victim impact panels.
Early statistics reveal this effective program can be another option for prosecutors to use in drunken driving cases.
The mandate comes from the courts, the opportunity lies within the program, and the responsibility to learn how to cope with problems, so they don’t return to alcohol, is up to the individual.
The program is offered at the Stronghold facility between Oregon and Byron and doesn’t cost the courts anything, because the offender picks up the cost, approximately $300.
ARM strives to keep the public safe by helping offenders lower their risk for future operating under the influence. ARM founder Hank Bodiya said it is a real successful program and found it has helped prevent the recidivism of alcohol.
Other counties that have incorporated ARM programs report positive results. For example, over a decade ago, Judge Ronald White, who was the presiding DUI judge for Winnebago County, began researching alternative sentencing programs when he noticed there were a number of repeat offenders in the county. The judge heard about the fledging ARM program in Michigan, and he flew to Detroit to learn more.
Winnebago County has incorporated ARM since 2001, and so far, the program has reduced the number of repeat offenders. And, more recently, Lee County decided to participate as well, after researching the program.
ARM’s common-sense approach – incorporating responsibility back into the drunk driving equation – really sets it apart. The fact that is has positive reviews from surrounding courts, makes use of the local Stronghold Conference Center, and costs the taxpayers nothing are among the other reasons I’m a proponent for this program and look forward to successful results.
Note to readers – Michael C. Rock is the Ogle County state’s attorney.