CHICAGO (STMW) – Cook County prosecutors have dismissed felony charges against the first group of offenders who successfully completed a new alternative program aimed at giving first-time, non-violent offenders a second chance.

State’s Atty. Anita Alvarez on Wednesday announced that 32 adult offenders who participated in the Deferred Prosecution program appeared in court to have their felony charges formally dismissed, a release from the state’s attorney’s office said.

Since it began, more than 370 offenders have been accepted into the program, designed to enable non-violent offenders to avoid a felony conviction if they successfully complete an intensive 12-month pre-indictment diversion program, the release said.

The program requires the consent of the victim of the crime and participants must voluntarily complete all mandatory requirements.

To date, 94 percent of participants have not been arrested for new criminal activity and 90 percent are in compliance with the expectations of the program, the release said.

Wednesday’s graduates successfully completed the program in nine months, earlier than the allotted 12-month time frame. In addition to dismissing charges, the state’s attorney’s office is providing participants with information on how to have the charge permanently expunged from their record.

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