S.W.A.P. (Sheriff's Work Alternative Program)
S.W.A.P. was brought to DuPage County in 1995 by then Undersheriff John E. Zaruba. Because of severe overcrowding in the jail a viable alternative to incarceration was clearly needed. S.W.A.P. was that alternative; every bed freed up by sentencing an offender to this work alternative program is used to house a more violent inmate.
Since 1995 offenders sentenced to S.W.A.P have worked in every municipality in the county performing various projects at no cost to taxpayers. The result has been a savings of over 4 million dollars in labor costs for the people of DuPage County.
Participants in S.W.A.P. have worked on:
- Roadside cleanup
- Prairie Path cleanup
- Sandbagging during flooding
- Removing gang graffiti
- Painting and renovating buildings
- Constructing playground equipment
- Washing and waxing municipal and county owned vehicles
Individuals sentenced to S.W.A.P are typically non violent, first time offenders. Those found guilty of a violent or sexual offense are not eligible. Offenders are generally sentenced to between five and fifteen days in the program that may be completed over a six to twelve month time frame.
The program averages 40 offenders a day who are split into three or four work crews that are transported to work sites by marked Sheriff's Office vans and supervised by specially trained uniformed deputies.
Sentenced offenders pay a $40 one time registration fee and $12 per every day worked. Those fees generate more than a quarter million dollars of income every year for DuPage County. In addition, since offenders sentenced to S.W.A.P. are not incarcerated in the county jail the program has also resulted in a savings of more than 12 million dollars compared to the cost of incarceration.
The adult S.W.A.P. program operates Monday through Friday, eight hours per day.
Ninety-five percent of the offenders sentenced to S.W.A.P complete the program. a rate much higher than other community service programs. For this reason the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority called S.W.A.P "the most innovative program to ever come along in Illinois."