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Program History

The public threat posed by inebriated motorists is now a very public national issue. Yet even before public officials and interest groups began their crusade against this critical concern, the judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County began addressing this problem within their districts, assuming a strong leadership role in the management of DUI offenders. It was in response to this concern of jurists in the Chicago metropolitan area that Monsignor Ignatius McDermott established the Alcohol Safety Education Program (ASEP) in 1971. The purpose of this program is to educate DUI offenders on the effects of alcohol on both their bodies and their lives.

Msgr. McDermott had ministered to individuals from all social sectors who had succumbed to over-indulgence of alcohol before becoming involved in the DUI dilemma. From his own personal experiences with these individuals and the effects of their alcohol use on their lives and those of their families, he grew to believe that alcoholism is a disease whose progress could be interrupted or averted through education. Many physicians agreed with his judgment, and as local jurists had come to similar conclusions, risk reduction education became the core of the court ordered DUI program in Cook County.

Initially, Msgr. McDermott raised funds to support the classes, but in 1972, costs were assumed by the Illinois Department of Transportation and then, in 1976, shifted by the courts to the DUI offenders themselves.

ASEP, along with its mother agency, Central States Institute of Addiction, assumed the role of assessing the level risk to public safety an individual who has been arrested for a DUI offense poses, and the probability that this individual will commit the offense again. ASEP's educational arm became a separate agency, Intervention Instruction Inc. (I.I.I.), in 1979.

As the effects of risk reduction education grew, so did the demand put on agencies necessary to meet the need of the courts. I.I.I. chose to focus its resources and expertise on the first-offender population. This decision was based on the belief that a first DUI offense creates a uniquely educable moment in the life of the offender. Thus, the first time offender may be the one most open to changing his behavior concerning drinking and driving.

The I.I.I. Risk Reduction education program has been extraordinarily successful, and has been publicly acknowledged as having a less than 5 percent recidivism rate in congratulatory reports by the Illinois Department of Transportation in 1995.

In keeping with Msgr. McDermott's ministry to persons living in poverty, Intervention Instruction has a variety of payment options for the indigent and those otherwise in financial difficulty. I.I.I. regularly reduces or writes off fees for the financially distressed DUI offenders within Cook County. This fee reduction is done on a case by case basis through an individualized process that includes a one-on-one interview with a Counselor who helps the client assess his or her financial need.

Intervention Instruction, Inc. sees its mission as having a positive effect on recidivism among those who commit a first DUI by changing their substance use behavior through education and treatment as needed. Its financial assistance policy and procedures are further demonstration of this dedication to its client population.

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