Why Hoping MGT will return in January Won’t “Make It So”

Posted: December 18, 2010 by parchangelo in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins

May 31, 2012, State Legislature passes new law paving way for Early Release programs! Read latest at http://richardwanke.com

Meritorious good time in the IL Department of Corrections (IDOC) was taken away in January 2010. Since then, inmates have been clamoring to know when it will return. IDOC staff have no idea when it will return. IDOC staff will likely learn when MGT returns when the rest of us learn; when IDOC in Springfield makes a public announcement that MGT is returning.

It is useless for inmates and their families to rely upon the IDOC rumor mill for any accurate information about when MGT will resume. Many readers post hopeful notes on this site and others about expectations they and their loved ones have regarding an IDOC release being soon, at the middle of the month or at the start of next month. IDOC staff repeatedly assure inmates that the return of MGT is happening just around the corner; in January 2011, or February 2011, just as they have repeatedly assured inmates before that it would return in April 2010, then June 2010, September 2010, and after November 2010. As we say, IDOC staff simply do not have the answers to this question, and readers cannot rely upon anything they say. We have to emphasize the when MGT returns, it will be with a big press release or news conference by the Governor and IDOC. Readers will read confirmation about it in the news or online here or at other sites before anything happens inside IDOC.

Everyone seems to feel that it is simply a matter of Gov. Quinn’s refusal to act now to reinstate MGT; that all he has to do is just decide to lift the suspension on the program and then the program will resume. This is not the case. The issue of MGT has moved beyond the control of the governor of IL. The suspension of MGT became a political football in the landscape of Illinois politics, and it is now impossible to separate it out from the rest of Illinois politics. The November 2010 political election is over but the log jam of decision-making in Springfield continues. Too many big issues remain unresolved in Springfield which affect the state budget. The state budget is in shambles. Illinois is seriously deficient on most of its fiscal obligations and cannot continue to operate in this manner without serious problems. MGT is small potatoes to the politicians relative to the budget and is being treated as such. Here is what we fear is happening now:

Some states in really bad shape are beginning to pin their hopes upon a financial rescue by the federal government. The Fed helped out states in some ways during past recessions, and it helps during natural disasters, Just recently, it was reported the federal government ran a $9 trillion private loan program to industry during the worst of this past Wall Street crisis. $9 trillion makes the $700 billion Wall Street bailout amount we knew of pale by comparison. Now, speculation is rampant that states are jostling amongst themselves to be the first hog in line at the federal trough when (not if) the Fed decides to help the states. California, Illinois, and New York, are positioning themselves at the head of this line. Ergo, IL State legislators may now be deliberately refusing to resolve our state budget crisis, and this is bad news for the people of Illinois. Unfortunately it also means prolonged misery for anyone caught in IDOC right now or expecting the quick return of MGT.

Quinn may continue to squawk about a state income tax increase; but there is nothing that he can do on his own. Illinois may continue to sit and stew in its fiscal mess for quite some time to come. If so, any reform at IDOC, including the reinstatement of MGT will take that much longer to come. Illinois prison talk.com has good contacts within the top of Illinois state government. It is reporting that sources say that MGT will return at some point but will be much tougher. This is really not new news. MGT has to return at some point, because it and periodic “Early Release” programs are the only historical means by which IDOC has been able to alleviate prison overcrowding.

There will be no early release program possible the next few years. That idea is dead in the water as the result of this past fiasco with the MGT push program. However, MGT has the statutory and historical support in past IDOC operations to support its return.  Yes, it is likely to be a much tougher program: preventing the awarding of MGT to violent offenders and those guilty of a long list of offenses. The question is when will it return? We regret to have to tell readers this, but we now believe that if your loved one has 6 months or less time remaining on their full IDOC sentence, you and they cannot depend upon MGT for any earlier release.

Since Mike Randall resigned (or was pushed out) as IDOC Director in September 2010, IDOC has virtually frozen. Acting IDOC Director, Gladyse Taylor has not announced new initiatives or news. She has not even been around to introduce herself at the prisons. What has made news, is current prison overcrowding since the suspension of the MGT program, and now the resulting cost to the state. While we believe that the bottom-line increase in costs to the State resulting from the lack of MGT will ultimately cause IL politicians to act on MGT issues; we fear that these politicians are slow learners and will move like molasses on MGT. We were hoping for quicker action from them, but since they have not acted on the budget, we are sorry to say that they are unlikely to act soon on prison issues. There is no pending state legislation for action on MGT, and no action was taken on HR0991 after March 2010.  We will have to wait until after the start of the new session in January 2011 to see if HR0991 is resurrected or if other legislation is even introduced on MGT. If it is, it will likely take until the end of that legislative session in May 2011 for any action to occur on it.

Meantime, IDOC costs are going to continue to rise, but it will be awhile before the politicians grasp the scale of this. Corrections is already a sizable budget item. At least a couple of prison experts estimate that the suspension of MGT will cost the State another $158 million  between now and July 2012, as well as increase IDOC reliance on lockdowns, leave fewer rehabilitative programs, decrease health care for prisoners, help spread infectious disease, and lead to more mental breakdowns and suicides…” (view article, What Comes After MGT?)

IDOC’s budget will also be hit by other problems cropping up in the economy, such as it now being forced to pay more for the broadcloth it has inmates at Sheridan using to make underwear for inmates, as reported in the Corrections Reporter (and other media) IDOC Averts Underwear Shortage. We can expect IDOC to have to continue to run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off every time it loses another contractor due to nonpay or some other issue and have to fork over emergency funds. According to the Capitol Fax blog,  (Here) AFSCME is discussing ways with the State to trim IDOC operational costs further including Meal Rescheduling on Weekends and Holidays at IDOC, modifications to Inmate commissary items, and further schedule changes to reduce IDOC and parole overtime.  The Capitol Fax Blog is the best source of news of legislative intent on issues affecting the state budget, and it also reports that while the auction of Thomson prison is likely to proceed this month, the Feds may not even have the money gathered to buy it. AFSCME is telling the State that we now need to keep the prison to lessen overcrowding, but IL is likely to ignore their warning rather than give up a nice, quick cash opportunity.

Anyway, the size of the budget and IDOC is growing exponentially. Unfortunately, we have to pass on the bad news and warn readers that even the return of MGT may do little to resolve overcrowding in IDOC, and IDOC itself already knows this. The problem is that the State is continuing to send too many people to prison and that will take years to change. MGT will return, but it will be so strict that many of your loved ones will still find themselves ineligible for it. The past MGT and Early Release Programs focused upon current offenses and ignored past offenses when determining individual eligibility for MGT. MGT is now no longer likely to do so when reinstated. Unless it has changed in the past couple of years, more class 4 felony inmates in prison, even for minor drug offenses, have violent or property offenses in their past. So, MGT, when it returns will not be the cure-all to IDOC overcrowding, and this makes it seem less of a priority to the politicians right now.

Bottom-line; Quinn is not the person who needs to hear from the families of inmates. It is the rest of the state politicians (especially GOP) and local State’s Attorneys who insist demanding prison time for all convictions who need to hear from all of us of the hardships their policies inflict upon families and the cost to all taxpayers.

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Comments
  1. Saran says:

    Yeah, this is what Im reading too from other places. Nothing moving on getting good time back and toughter rules. My LO won’t be eligible if the rules are changed too much!

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  2. Tabitha says:

    I GUESS THE GOOD TIME ISN’T COMING BACK NO TIME SOON. I’M NOT EVEN SO MUCH WORRIED ABOUT IT ANYMORE BECAUSE AS LONG AS I BEEN WAITING FOR IT TO COME BACK MY HUSBAND NOW ONLY HAVE 4 MONTHS LEFT AND THAT MAKES A TOTAL OF 18 MONTHS. IF THE GOOD TIME COME BACK BEFORE THEN WE WILL BE HAPPY BUT WE NOT GOING TO COUNT ON IT!

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  3. Saran says:

    Yeah, but I don’t think they should be allowed to get away with just screwing up the rights of inmates. Even if they bring good time back, if it is harder and some people don’t qualify no more, then those people should sue IDOC if they were in IDOC before it was suspended and would have got it under the old rules. I really think the state should have to pay in some way for this mess-up.

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  4. Ashley says:

    I am so sick of hearing all the rumors and this is a HUGE issue in IL whether the gov or whoever wants to pay attention to it or not. I don’t understand why the IDOC Director cant make a public announcement stating that MGT is or isn’t in review, what is being done or if nothing why they are holding off on it so we have solid word from the source rather than he said she said and all the unneccessary rumors! It is rather frustrating if u ask me.

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  5. Jeffrey L. says:

    We will see the good-time return back but nobody will like the result’s because the criteria to qualify for it will rely on a clean background which most Illinois convicts don’t have anymore so much for that right . Illinois families need to contact and write to congress and our local politicians to protest what is happening to our loved ones currently doing time in Illinois prison’s.If quinn can’t do anything to resolve the good-time issues in Illinois then what hope do we have . Let’s face it people if your middle class or even poor folk then you really don’t have much of a opinion in Illinois politics and what goes on behind closed doors down in Springfield . If the good-time is ever brought back for Illinois prisoners then we should all hope that the rules to qualify for it isn’t to tough because if it is then Springfield and quinn is going to have more problems on there hands then just dealing with the prisons being over crowded .

    Sincerely , Jeffrey L . ( Former Convict in Illinois ) Good People your going to need it !! My prayers go out to all the families who have loved ones locked up doing time in Illinois prisons right now . It’s a bad time to be locked up !!! That’s 8 prison sentneces talking here . God Bless Everyone !!!

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    • Vicci says:

      My son is currently incarcerated and the guards, well most of them, are just absolute JERKS. They way the treat visitors is bad enough, I cant imagine how they treat the inmates. I do know, that when someone gets close to having no tickets issued for close to 6 months….they start problems with the inmate and then lie to their lieutenant about what their infraction was to get them in more trouble. Just plain sad how horrible the guards become. They get so jaded.

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  6. Vicci says:

    I still think its wrong to take ALL good time away. The state has been running with the 6 months earned good time for early release. What they did in 2010 was to attempt to do a mass (even earlier) early release, which went haywire. What damn the whole process. I think it would be “fair” at least for all that were already incarcerated to still be given that 6 months…and anyone incarcerated after the fiasco, after the “change”, affect their sentence. I wrote a thesis paper on this very subject….just infuriating.

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  7. Missn Corey says:

    My husband been lockd up now since May of 2009.Since he’s been gone he’s been placed in three different joints. as of Jan.2009 he put in for his Goodtime while in Big Muddy Correctional Center but wus never given it but instead day moved him to Vienna once he ot there after while askn about rither or not his goodtime wus approved day moved him once again to Tamms and he’s been at a stand still every since. After all this running from different prisons he’s down to 4 1/2 months left so now when da goodtime does return he may not b eilable how far is dat.like sumone said uptop the guards picks on da inmates given them tickets fo pety reasons such as getting out of line at least my husband got a ticket for & having a book n da pad with him wha a shame sumthing needs to b done.

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  8. Jessica says:

    You know its hard enough being an inmate in idoc and they make it worse not allowing us to even an our good time to get out early I was in when they took it and stiil am and will be for another 10 months and the thing is everyone is talking about it and not doing any thing!!!!!!!!!!! Lets contact them and get something done

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  9. […] Read our latest article on the chances for MGT reinstatement here: Why Hoping MGT will Return in January 2011 “Won’t Make It So” […]

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