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U.S. Attorney General Holder Impressed by Local Federal Program

PEORIA – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation's most powerful lawyer and legal adviser to the president, was in Peoria.
PEORIA – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation's most powerful lawyer and legal adviser to the president, was in Peoria.
And he’s taking notes from local prosecutors.
Holder thinks the country's use of jails must change. One-fourth of incarcerated people in the world are being held in U.S. prisons.  The U.S. spends $80 billion annually to put people in prison, so he’s is looking for alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent offenses.
"We have to do things differently. We are a resource poor nation when it comes to public safety,” he said. "What's interesting about these kinds of program is you can reduce costs and at the same time enhance public safety. In a lot of ways this is a no-brainer.”
Thursday, Holder’s search led him to U.S. Courthouse in Peoria, where a program called “Pretrial Alternatives to Detention Initiative”, or PADI, transitions non-violence, low-level offenders with substance abuse problems. The 11-year-old program has served more than 100 people, with a nearly 90 percent success rate.
Kyle Wright, 38, is one of the program’s success stories. In 2012, Wright was convicted of selling cocaine.
"You know it never clicked for me to get sober. It never clicked to me to do things the way I need to do them," said Wright.  
All PADI participants undergo treatment, counseling, and are connected with a sponsor. After seven months in the program, Wright graduated and received a certificate in front of the U.S. Attorney General.
"It was very surreal. He's a very important man, and it seems like his position he's taking right now is treatment rather than prison,” he said.  “I think it's important. Some people just need a nudge in the right direction."
Holder is looking for more stories like Wright and called the PADI program "impressive."
“The long standing success of this program is something that really leaps out right now,” he said.
Holder will take his findings back to the nation's capital as he considers a federal program.
 
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