Before Illinois' meritorious good time (MGT) program was suspended in 2010, individuals serving time in Illinois prisons for non-violent offenses could have up to 180 days of incarceration deducted as a reward for good behavior. MGT was halted when it became clear that some individuals were being released before they had spent sufficient time in IDOC. This issue has since been resolved, and Illinois law now requires inmates to serve at least 60 days in prison before they can receive any good time credit.
Since MGT was suspended, Illinois has increased its prison population by 4,000. At a time when other states are successfully and responsibly reducing their prison populations, Illinois currently houses a record-high 49,000 people in state prisons. Medium and minimum-security facilities, which primarily hold low-level, non-violent offenders, face the most severe crowding. These conditions impede rehabilitation efforts and create dangerous environments for both staff and inmates. MGT is widely recognized as a necessary corrections management tool; it is supported by research as an effective incentive for good behavior. The current situation of incarcerating more people for longer periods of time is extremely expensive to Illinois taxpayers. As Illinois is facing historic budget shortfalls, the reinstatement of MGT would help save scarce public dollars.
If you would like to add your voice to the growing numbers advocating the program's responsible reinstitution, click here for a letter you can personalize and mail to Governor Quinn.