Low-level drug offenders in Chicago to get treatment, not jail under new county policy

Cook County State's Attorney says her office won't prosecute most misdemeanor marijuana cases and will steer many facing felony drug charges into treatment rather than locking them up — a policy shift she says will save the county that includes Chicago the money it costs to keep offenders in jail.

Anita Alvarez said Monday she is launching the new policy because locking people up on low-level drug charges "simply isn't working."

Alvarez says offenders facing low level drug charges will be routed to treatment programs almost immediately after they are arrested. And she says that by reducing the number of days people spend in jail, those arrested may be able to keep their jobs and homes that they could otherwise lose if they're locked up.