From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Illinois Supreme Court Requests More Money for Probation Officers

Illinois’ top judge says years of budget cuts mean there aren’t enough probation officers monitoring criminals.

Thomas Kilbride is the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He said the murder of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot days after singing at President Obama’s inauguration, could have been prevented.

Kilbride said one of the suspected shooters violated parole three times, and should have already been in custody.

“There are too many cases, with too few probation workers to handle the load, and this individual slipped through the system,” he explained.

In the last several years, Illinois courts have seen probation funding cut by 25-percent, from $62 million to $47 million.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed budget would make up the difference and then some, more than doubling this year’s funding.

But even as Kilbride asked lawmakers to approve that spending, some lawmakers focused on how much he and the other six judges on the high court get paid.

As of last year, they were each making $211,000, more than supreme court judges in every other state but California.

But Illinois judges have previously ruled that their automatic, yearly salary increases are protected by the state constitution.