COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart will be honored tonight as one of Governing Magazine’s public officials of the year for setting a new standard on what a jail can accomplish.
Sheriff Dart’s focus on rehabilitation while individuals in custody are in custody through programming and providing mental health services to individuals in custody in need, caught the attention of Governing Magazine’s selection committee. Typically rehabilitative programming is relegated to prisons, but Sheriff Dart has created a new paradigm for pre-trial detention.
Cook County Jail releases more people into the community than it sends to the state prison system. Of the 46,424 people released from the jail in 2016, 31,832 returned to the community.
The goal of the voluntary jail programming is to give individuals in custody tools to navigate challenges they face when they return to the community, so they do not return to jail. Programs include behavioral health and counseling, educational opportunities and classes that focus on building skills that could open doors to new careers.
Sheriff Dart will join eight other government leaders from across the country at a ceremony in Washington D.C. His fellow recipients are:
- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
- Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
- Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning and House Minority Leader Jim Ward
- Broward County, Fla., Administrator Bertha Henry
- California Government Operations Secretary Marybel Batjer
Every year since 1994, Governing Magazine has recognized the leaders in state, city and county government who exemplify public service.
The 30-year-old publication, which provides nonpartisan coverage of state and local government, selects the honorees from nominations it receives from readers, those in the public and private sector and the magazine’s staff.