Insights & Information
from the fields of Criminal Justice, Recovery and Restoration of Citizenship
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.
On October 24, 2011, Governor Pat Quinn announced a number of appointments to the state’s more than 320 boards and commissions, including the Prisoner Review Board, to which he appointed three members: Charles Bowers, Edith Crigler, and Eric Althoff. Charles Bowers of Edwards, former police offer from Peoria and a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves, has served on the Prisoner Review board since 2006. Edith Crigler of Chicago, president of the Chicago Jobs Council’s Board of Directors and City Wide Restorative Justice committee member, was appointed by Governor Quinn to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission in 2010. Eric Althoff of Effingham, Effingham County coroner and volunteer firefighter for over 20 years, has served on the Prisoner Review Board since 2004.
Governor Quinn is currently conducting a top-to-bottom review of Illinois’ boards and commissions to seek out ways to increase efficiency and save costs. Citizens who are interested in serving on boards and commissions can now apply online. For more information on all of the state’s boards and commissions, click here.
(From ICJIA's CJ DISPATCH, 27 July, 2011). In response to the growth of Illinois' correctional populations, and to ensure that sentencing policy is effective and efficient, the state created the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) and passed The Crime Reduction Act of 2009. Through its enabling legislation, SPAC is mandated to conduct research and analysis regarding sentencing policy and practices in Illinois, and to examine how these impact correctional populations in the state. SPAC's report provides an overview of the Illinois' sentenced populations and the forces that influence the population's size and type of sentencing. It also discusses how criminal justice practices have changed in Illinois over the past 20 years, with a specific emphasis on changes in sentencing practices. To read the full research brief, click here.
On June 10, Jack Cutrone, Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), awarded a $260,000 federal grant to establish the Illinois Center of Excellence in Mental Health and Justice in Winnebago County. To help address the significant rates of mental health problems and recidivism in justice-involved populations, the center will “promote, coordinate, and provide training to communities looking to implement jail diversion programs and specialty courts for mentally ill and/or substance-abusing offenders, and offenders who are military veterans.” The center will be located at Rockford’s University of Illinois School of Medicine. Satellite programs will also be launched from several University of Illinois sites. To read more in the Park Forest eNews, click here.
In the June issue of the National Conference of State Legislatures' magazine, State Legislatures, Donna Lyons writes that "while some states scramble to comply with portions of the federal sex offender registration law by its July deadline, others think the law’s rewards are just not worth the costs.... Some consider the amount and kind of information that states must now collect, regularly verify, and share as onerous." To read the whole article, click here.
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- Report: Investigating the Link Between Housing Vouchers and Crime
- Sentencing Project Report: Evaluating the Justice Reinvestment Initiative
- ALERT: HB2265 / SB1003 – Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Unlawful Use of Weapons Convictions
- ALERT: HB2404 - Raise the Age of Juvenile Court to 18 for All Offenses
- FAMM Report: How Sentencing Safety Valves Can Increase Public Safety and Save Money
- MacArthur Foundation Project: Mistakes Kids Make
- Restorative Justice Town Hall Meeting
- ACLU: Reducing Reliance on Incarceration in 2013
- Sun-Times: End Felony Charges for Prostitution in Illinois
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