In its commitment to restorative justice and the well-being of its clients, the Federal Defender Program proudly participates in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Sentencing Options that Achieve Results Court (the SOAR program). This unique program provides individuals facing criminal prosecution with an alternative to incarceration through a creative blend of treatment, sanctions, and incentives designed to address adverse behavior that underlies criminal conduct. The Federal Defender Program partners with the District Court, the U.S. Pretrial Services Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s office in all aspects of this program.

Only Individuals charged with a non-violent felony in the Northern District of Illinois may participate in SOAR, in addition to other criteria. Additionally, each SOAR member must plead guilty prior to entering the program.  SOAR members participate for 18-24 months. They attend scheduled in-court proceedings twice per month while, at the same time, engaging in a variety of programs designed to address underlying causes of criminal conduct. 

Participants who have substance abuse issues will also engage in varying levels and modalities of treatment to address those issues.  Two Staff Attorneys for the Federal Defender Program continue to represent individual SOAR members, both at the SOAR meetings and in separate consultations. When an individual successfully completes the SOAR Program, she/he will receive a sentence that does not include a term of incarceration.  A participant may also be eligible, with the approval of the United States Attorney’s Office:  (1) to withdraw the guilty plea and enter a plea to a misdemeanor offense; or (2) to have the charges dismissed altogether.