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Program offering chance to avoid prison has 1st graduates

May 13, 2018

CHICAGO (AP) — A program out of Chicago’s federal court building designed to give non-violent suspects a chance to stay out of prison has held its first graduation.

It’s a pretrial diversionary program emphasizing teamwork and counseling on living constructive, crime-free lives.

A statement from the U.S. District Court for northern Illinois says five participants whose alleged crimes ranged from computer fraud to drug possession graduated at a ceremony Thursday. Successful completion keeps participants out of prison. It can lead to reductions of felonies to misdemeanors and even to dismissal of charges.

Participants can’t have felony records. They attend bi-monthly court sessions for up to two years. Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys help oversee the program. It’s called Sentencing Options that Achieve Results, or SOAR for short. It was established in 2016.

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