Archive for the ‘Meritorious Good Time’ Category


Governor Pat Quinn is beginning to face serious criticism for inaction regarding prison overcrowding and prison violence is escalating. So, Quinn is now claiming IDOC is implementing the new sentence credits as a way to reduce overcrowding. Yet, when Quinn first said this yesterday, an IDOC spokesperson indicated it had no firm timeline for implementation of the early release. Today, this is corrected below with Quinn and IDOC stating the first 12 inmates have been selected and will be released next month. It is too bad that it seems to require a surge in prison violence and public criticism rather than humanitarian motivation to get the Governor to move on  this important issue:

Prison officials ready to launch early inmate release program

4 hours ago  •  Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD — State officials said Friday they are finally launching an early prisoner release program that could reduce some of the overcrowding within the prison system and, possibly, reduce some of the violence going on behind bars.

The first of 12 inmates who have been deemed eligible for the program could hit the streets in the coming month as the Illinois Department of Corrections reviews prisoner files to determine who might qualify.

“The new program will allow the department to, after comprehensive review, award up to 180 days of sentence credit to statutorily eligible offenders who demonstrate positive behavior in custody and show a potential for rehabilitation,” a Corrections release stated.

The program comes more than three years after Gov. Pat Quinn suspended an early release program after The Associated Press reported that an estimated 2,000 inmates had spent only days or weeks of their sentences in prison.

Since then, the state’s prison system has mushroomed by more than 3,000 inmates. At the same time, Quinn has moved to close prisons, saying the state cannot afford to keep all of the facilities open.

The combination of more inmates in fewer cells has led to inmates sleeping in gymnasiums and what critics say is a dangerous rise in violence. On Friday, Lawrence Correctional Center and Menard Correctional Center were on lockdown status, while Stateville Correctional Center was on partial lockdown.

John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, said the program could help alleviate some of the pressure on the prison system by reducing the inmate population and giving prisoners an incentive to behave.

But, Maki said, the governor should abandon his plan to close Dwight Correctional Center because overcrowding remains a serious problem.

“Illinois is still going to have a very overcrowded prison system,” Maki said.

The system held 45,000 inmates in prisons designed for 33,000 inmates when the last early release program was terminated in 2009. Projections show the number of inmates is heading toward 50,000 in a system built for 32,000 if the governor moves forward with the closure of the all-female prison in Dwight.

Quinn already has shuttered the super-maximum-security prison in Tamms.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison guards and other state workers, said the program could be a positive step.

“But by the department’s own admission in its latest inmate population projection for 2013, this is not an answer to the state’s huge overcrowding problem,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said. “The overcrowding crisis and accompanying dangers will only get worse unless Gov. Quinn keeps Dwight open and reverses the closure of the four IDOC facilities he recently shuttered.”

Under the new program, offenders must have served at least 60 days within the state prison system to be eligible for credit. Inmate files will go through multiple levels of review before an award is determined, Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said.

The program is aimed at nonviolent offenders. Credits cannot be awarded to inmates serving time for murder, rape, kidnapping and other serious crimes.

Officials also will have the right to revoke credit if an inmate demonstrates negative or violent behavior, which was not permitted under previous programs.

The department must notify local authorities at least two weeks prior to an inmate’s parole if the offender received supplemental sentence credit at any point during incarceration.

The agency said it will not inform those who call the agency whether an inmate will be eligible for credit.

But in an attempt to bring transparency to the process, the new law will require the department to provide annual reports outlining how many inmates received credits.

http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/prison-officials-ready-to-launch-early-inmate-release-program/article_1ca143b8-7d3a-11e2-b5f9-0019bb2963f4.html

 

 

Advertisements

A lot of people are visiting the website daily wondering if and when something will be posted saying that IDOC is beginning to release inmates from their sentences early by awarding them up to six months of discretionary sentence credits. The internet is awash with individual rumors from inmates and prison staff throughout the state claiming that some one said the state will begin releasing people early at one prison or another within the next couple of weeks, etc.

All these are rumors which are all UNCONFIRMED. So far, no one is able to produce paperwork showing that they have been awarded sentence credits and will be released earlier than otherwise as a result.

So, what does this all mean? Well, so far, while IDOC has said that staff are beginning to review inmate records to see who is eligible to receive what credit, IDOC is still unwilling or unable to commit itself to a specific date by which it will release that first inmate. The most revealing information IDOC has provided to date about how it is going about implementing any early release is the statement in the article contained below, where it said, “…This will be an ongoing, careful and thoughtful process,” Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said in a statement…”

Ill. prisons reintroducing early-release program

That statement seems to suggest that it will take IDOC perhaps a month or two to get anything started. We were able to confirm that no obstacles  officially now remain to IDOC implementing the new rules which have been legally approved. Yet, even the IDOC contact person for the rule-making remains unwilling to give any indication of when a release program might start. So, yes, readers can check back here, other sites and media reports daily, but we also suggest keeping current on the IDOC Community Notification Page website (click here) too.

IDOC is required by law to post current inmate information on every individual it releases as it releases inmates. Up through the end of 2012, IDOC was releasing individuals several times during each month. 2013 releases are easy to distinguish so far this month, because of the year change and because there have been relatively few of them. With the exception of one person who was placed on electronic detention from Stateville CC, inmates released this month committed offenses which would not have made them eligible for any early release. Electronic detention is not quite the same as early release, so we can’t say that it plays a part in this individuals position either.

We suggest though, that one way to reduce the effects of the rumor mill and keep your sanity is too keep an eye on the Community Notification Page as well as media reports. When early release does begin, you will see sentence credit time reductions effecting the release dates of non-violent offenders.

 


State Readies for Revamped Early

Prisoner Release Program

Article online at theSouthern.com


It’s official! As anticipated, the IL House has now passed Senate Bill 2621, by a vote of 68 -50, authorizing the Department of Corrections to issue sentence credits which can lead to the early release for inmates eligible under the terms of the bill. The bill will now head to Governor Pat Quinn for possible signature. Quinn has 60 days to either sign it or indicate his opposition to it. While this is great news for all incarcerated in the overcrowded IL state prisons, the bill still needs Quinn’s approval and then to be implememented. It is unknown right now if Quinn will sign the bill into law; he has not indicated past support for the bill or any inclination that he will work to implement any form of early release. If signed the law will head to Rules and Regulations for work before IDOC changes are begun. As we have said before, even in the most optimistic scenario, readers should not look for any sentence shortening to begin till after the November 2012 elections and possibly even some time in 2013. Still, this is wonderful and long anticipated news! Congradulations to everyone who has worked so hard for so long to try to reinstate some form or early release for IL inmates!

Here is the link to the whole piece of SB 2621`legislation. Readers will have to scrutinize it carefully to determine just who is eligible for what.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=2621&GAID=11&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=62972&SessionID=84&GA=97</a

Bill Synopis:

Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Unified Code of Corrections. Changes the references to "good conduct credit" and "early release" on felony sentences to "sentence credit", and the references to "good conduct for meritorious service" to "sentence credit for good conduct". Provides that the Department of Corrections shall provide annual reports to the Governor and General Assembly on award, amount, holding offenses, and revocation of sentence credit for good conduct. Provides that the rules and regulations for sentence credit shall provide that the sentence credit accumulated and retained by an inmate during specific periods of time in which the inmate is engaged full-time in behavior modification programs or life skills courses and satisfactorily completes the assigned program as determined by the standards of the Department of Corrections shall be multiplied by a factor of 1.50 for program participation. Provides that the rules and regulations shall also provide that sentence credit, subject to the same offense limits and multiplier, may be provided to an inmate who was held in pre-trial detention prior to his or her current commitment to the Department of Corrections and successfully completed a full-time 60 day or longer substance abuse program, educational program, behavior modification program, or life skills course provided by a county department of corrections or county jail. Requires the county program credit to be calculated at sentencing and included in the sentencing order. Deletes prohibition on an inmate receiving additional sentence credit for time spent in an educational or training program if the inmate previously served more than one prior sentence for a felony in an adult correctional facility. Provides that the Department may also award 60 days of sentence credit to any committed person who passed the high school level Test of General Educational Development (GED) while he or she was held in pre-trial detention prior to the current commitment to the Department of Corrections. Provides that the Department's rules and regulations for revoking sentence credit, includes revocation of sentence credit for good conduct. Effective upon becoming law.

Senate Floor Amendment No. 4
Provides that eligible inmates for an award of sentence credit for specific instances of good conduct may be selected to receive the credit at the Director's or his or her designee's sole discretion. Provides that consideration may be based on, but not limited to, any available risk-assessment analysis on the inmate, any history of conviction for violent crimes as defined by the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, facts and circumstances of the inmate's holding offense or offenses, and the potential for rehabilitation. Restores language that no inmate shall be eligible for the additional good conduct credit in which the inmate is engaged full-time in substance abuse programs, correctional industry assignments, educational programs, behavior modification programs, life skills courses, or re-entry planning who (i) has previously received increased good conduct credit for that participation and has subsequently been convicted of a felony, or (ii) has previously served more than one prior sentence of imprisonment for a felony in an adult correctional facility.


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

 

We previously advised readers that any return of the Meritorious Good Time Credit (MGT) which IL Governor Pat Quinn suspended in December 2009, or a new program for the early release of IL inmates would first be publicly announced before the state acted to release anyone. Rumors are spread every month to inmates within the IL Department of Corrections (IDOC) about the anticipated return of MGT. These rumors are false, and as this article shows, IDOC is not about to reinstate MGT.

This article is the first clear and official indication of how Governor Quinn intends to proceed in order to address the extreme prison overcrowding he created in his attempt to win election as state governor. Quinn has so far ignored all inquiries as to why he has not reinstated MGT, but this article basically states that he will not do so; nor will he implement any “early release” program across the board. Rather, it states that Quinn and staff are brainstorming with just a few crucial legislators who deal with criminal justice issues; particularly Rep. Dennis Reboletti, who is a hard-liner on crime.

Rep Reboletti speaks of “alternative sentencing”,  ankle bracelets, treatment centers and halfway houses; terms similar to Quinn’s mention in October 2010 that he would focus on altenative sentencing, but it remains to be seen exactly what, if any, leniency will be included in the methods by which these options will be implemented. Reboletti has never advocated shortening sentences and releasing any inmates early, and his alternative sentencing options may mean just removing prisoners from IDOC and the State’s responsibility and instead making them serve the remainder of their terms elsewhere, such as in local communities.  Given that the State is short on money already and so are most communities; passing the responsibility for prisoner behavior onto localities would be difficult to work out. Yet, if localities accept inmates and themselves release them early, then the State can avoid political flack if anything goes wrong.

Whatever form of compromise is reached between Quinn and his legislators, it is unlikely to apply uniformly across the board for inmates. Some inmates convicted of non-violent offenses will be eligible to participate; yet others committing other offenses may not have that option.  Rep. Art Turner’s legislative overture to set aside the 60 day requirement is certainly doomed. Additionally, since funding sources appear to be non-existent right now, implementing sentencing alternatives and processing individuals by the end of the upcoming Spring legislative session appears to be over-optimistic. ILprisontalk.com is urging it’s members to contact legislators in support of Rep Turner’s bill and HB 3900. We doubt this is necessary. Since legislators tightened eligibility restrictions for awarding MGT, they are unlikely to now loosen them, and Governor Quinn won’t require this. Given who the legislators are that Quinn is negotiating with, Quinn isn’t going to unveil any risky or lenient program for sentence reduction. And, he will not need a prod to act. He will just move when he decides to do so. He can count on legislative support, not opposition, as legislators are not likely to oppose any actions negotiated by both parties and the Governor that they believe will reduce the prison population (and, more importantly, prison costs).

Quinn may have a few more unpleasant surprises up his sleeve. Last year he pushed hard for a state tax increase and got it, but it did not solve the state’s fiscal problems. Illinois is more in the hole than ever, and there are no more magic rabbits for Quinn. Now, his only solutions are to cut state expenses and increase the state’s efficiency, and he is starting to move in ways which may be ruthless. Quinn had seven state facilities on the chopping block for closure last year. Their closures were averted at the time, but he just resurrected two of them last week: Tinley Park and Jacksonville. These serve vulnerable, disabled individuals which Quinn now states he is justified on moving back into the community because he has better plans for their placement and welfare. Quinn’s plans are yet unspecified and may be little better than his initial and criticized plans, yet he is announcing the closures of Tinley Park and Jacksonville as executive and final decisions not subject to re-review. Quinn is using the assertion that because his initial closure plans for these two facilities involved public hearings and a review, that these eliminate the necessity for the same this time around. If Quinn wins on this point, don’t be surprised if he also resurrects the closure of Logan Correctional Center and/or the Chester Mental Health Center.

This is not to say that alternative sentencing is not the solution. It is, but it will not succeed alone. Alternative sentencing options will only take some offenders out of IDOC to relieve prison overcrowding. It does not resolve the overcrowding in the first place, and if the current community mindset with respect to crime and offenders is not changed, then localities will not welcome alternative sentencing options and the placements of offenders.

Supposedly, there has been a statewide push for several years for circuit courts and counties to develop local programs to recognize and correct the problem of persons being sent to prison who either do not need to be there in the first place or who do not benefit by being in prison. While it is known that some individuals are dangerous to society or deserving of severe punishment; IL prisons today are largely filled with more minor offenders who are not rehabilitated but simply warehoused by state prison.  Adult Redeploy was designed to create funding methods for communities to develop alternative court supervision and rehabilitative programs to reserve state prison for serious and dangerous offenders.

Some communities deserve credit for getting their jail populations under control, because they have been proactive in realizing that it is better to rehabilitate rather than punish the citizens who ultimately return to their communities. Other communities have continued to deal harshly with offenders and are just beginning to consider their options as they are finding that they cannot afford the costs of jailing everyone. Unfortunately, much better progress could have been made with Adult Redeploy up to this point in time. Now, if the state also throws responsibility for prison inmates upon these localities, it may swamp them. Not only that, but the state and these localities will face the public unwillingness to host inmates since these localities have been trained for years to criminalize offenders.

The chickens are coming home to roost for IL. On the one hand the state is running out of money as the prison population continues to climb; on the other hand, electoral rhetoric and “Get tough on Crime” politics have created a public atmosphere which is unreceptive to the degree of mindset change required to effectively deal with prison overcrowding in time to avoid embarrassing lawsuits and costly effects.

__________________________________________________________________________

AP Exclusive: Lawmakers seek prison crowding fix

FILE – In this April 2004 file photo, eighty-six inmates share a dormitory at the minimum-security Vandalia Prison in Vandalia, Ill. With Illinois’ prison population continuing to rise and Gov. Pat Quinn refusing to reinstate a program that gave well-behaved prisoners early release, lawmakers from both parties are pushing plans this spring to find alternatives to incarceration or other ideas to reduce the state’s packed lockups. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman,File) — AP
By JOHN O’CONNOR, AP Political Writer
3:23 p.m., Jan. 20, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Lawmakers from both parties are seeking ways to reduce Illinois’ growing prison population, and one has introduced legislation to restart a contentious program that let well-behaved prisoners out early.

Gov. Pat Quinn shut down the 30-year-old early release program after The Associated Press reported in 2009 that prison officials had implemented an unpublicized, accelerated version that was springing criminals in as little as eight days.

He has shown no interest in reviving it, but least one legislator is looking at it again as the prison population has grown by 3,000 inmates in two years. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers is meeting with Quinn to find solutions more palatable to the governor and the public.

Conditions inside state prisons are “wretched,” according to John Maki, executive director of the prison watchdog group John Howard Association. Monitoring visits to Illinois lockups in the past year have revealed inmates housed in gymnasiums, standing water in living quarters and rodent problems.

Illinois is not alone in trying to address prison crowding. An August report by the American Civil Liberties Union identified six states that have adopted laws in the past five years to decrease prison populations, with four more working on the issues. One of the more popular tacks among reform states is to expand good-conduct credit, including in Kentucky and Ohio just last year.

Prison advocates nationwide generally support early release as one solution to overcrowding, and Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, has introduced legislation that would restore Illinois’ accelerated early-release program. But the governor previously has said he won’t go along with that, even with new controls imposed by lawmakers, after problems with the program nearly cost him reelection in 2010.

Instead, Quinn’s staff has been working with a group of legislators who plan to pick up the pace when the General Assembly resumes its work later this month. Some told the AP they hope to have a solution by the end of the spring session.

The group includes Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a law-and-order legislator who speaks of being “smart on crime” and advocates alternative sentencing, such as treatment for first- or second-time substance abusers.

“Put them into community-based programs with ankle bracelets, into treatment centers or halfway houses where they can get job counseling or programming to put them back into a productive life,” the Elmhurst Republican said.

As of November, there were 48,620 people incarcerated in Illinois, 144 percent more than the 33,700 for which space was designed, according to the Corrections Department. But department officials now play down those numbers, saying “operational capacity” is about 51,200. That’s after the agency began counting how many people a facility can actually hold, along with what it was designed to house.

For decades in Illinois, the director of the Corrections Department had the discretion to cut sentences with “meritorious good time,” or MGT, by up to six months for an inmate who displayed good behavior behind bars.

But Quinn abandoned the practice in December 2009 after the AP reported that the agency secretly dropped an informal requirement that all incoming inmates serve 60 days behind bars before getting good-time credit in a plan dubbed “MGT Push.” More than 1,700 inmates were released under that program, and some went on to commit more crimes.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Derrick King, for example, was sentenced to three years in prison for a brutal attack on a woman in 2008. He served about a year in county jail and 14 days in state prison before he was released in October 2009 under MGT Push and then arrested the next day on suspicion of assault and sent back to prison.

Lawmakers later put the 60-day minimum sentence requirement into law. An independent review of the accelerated early-release program determined the Quinn administration had failed to consider dangers to public safety in trying to save money and recommended it be reinstated with reforms.

Quinn has not said why his administration will not reinstate the program, although he said in October 2010 he was focusing on “alternative sentencing approaches.” Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson confirmed he’s working with the legislative group to “manage population numbers while continuing to incarcerate – for safety, rehabilitation, and punishment.”

Along with Reboletti, the panel meeting with Quinn’s staff about a solution includes Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale and Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin. Each says he’s open to options that keep the public safe but reduce the inmate population to make prisons safer and spare the state budget. The House Democrats’ representative is parliamentarian David Ellis, the governor’s office said.

Dillard, a candidate for governor in 2010 and potentially again in 2014, said early release is not popular, given the shock of MGT Push.

“My constituents want people locked up,” he said. “They’re tired of people who still should be locked up in the penitentiary (out) committing crimes.”

Nonetheless, he’s open to ideas such as Reboletti’s.

Turner’s bill would reverse the new 60-day minimum prison sentence requirement and give the Corrections director discretion to release anyone who has served 60 days behind any bars, including in county jails. Turner did not return repeated calls and an email seeking comment.

Regardless of the method, something has to happen soon, Maki said.

At Vandalia prison in June, John Howard visitors found dirty, stagnant water pooling on the floor of inmates’ living areas. One dormitory, Building 19, at Vienna prison in September had rodent droppings and inmates complained of mice and cockroaches. Windows on two floors were broken and birds had built nests inside.

“When you put nonviolent offenders in deplorable conditions you’re not going to make this person better,” said Maki, whose report blames Quinn and lawmakers who have cut corrections budgets. “Prisons are not typically uplifting places, but Building 19 was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen.”

Illinois governor to close 2 state institutions

Governor Quinn Announces Active Community Care Transition Plan
Rebalancing Plan Will Increase Community Care Options for People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions


The problems in IL prisons are prompting a number of inmates to submit “letters to the editor” in order to let the public know what the situation is inside the Illinois Department of Corrections and to suggest ways for the State of IL to solve a few problems. We ran across two inmate letters written from inmates serving time at the Logan Correctional Center (which Governor Pat Quinn proposed closing) which we found noteworthy:

Jason Alan Spyres, at the Logan Correctional Center had this to say in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Illinois is broke and has proposed 1900-plus layoffs, claiming we have no other choice. Of those layoffs, 356 involve the Logan Correctional Center — a prison I’m in, serving a 30-year sentence for cannabis convictions.

In no way do I approve of my prior mistakes; however, being in prison doesn’t strip me of the ability to see specific policy changes we could make that would reduce the budgetary needs of the Department of Corrections — and lower future crime rates. Changes that wouldn’t involve state layoffs, or controversial inmate release programs.

Example: The Earned Good Conduct Credit is good time offenders can earn by participating in drug treatment, or earning their GED — two activities that are statistically tied to significantly lower recidivism rates. However, IDOC excludes anyone convicted of a Class X felony from EGC eligibility.

So, what is the Class X conviction? It was introduced in 1978 for the most serious, heinous and violent crimes, such as murder, aggravated kidnapping and child molestation/rape. But flash forward to 2011, and selling cannabis can earn you a Class X. First offense, with no guns and no violence. You still couldn’t earn the same good time carjackers, burglars, and murderers do. Yes, I said murderers. In Illinois, second-degree murder is not Class X and is eligible for the same good time we deny to thousands of nonviolent offenders.

When IDOC admits 89 percent of those who parole without a GED will return to prison in three years, why wouldn’t we incentivise all offenders to make positive choices — especially nonviolent ones?

Critics might argue this idea would result in some earning their GED only for the good-time. And they’re right, but would that be such a horrible thing? They would still have to demonstrate improved reading and writing abilities, and statistically, their recidivism rates would drop nearly in half.

For every 3.5 offenders added to the EGC program we’d save as much in current expenditures as a layoff. So, 1,900-plus layoffs, or more nonviolent offenders earning the same good-time we already give to second-degree murderers? Please, call your state legislators and tell them which you prefer.

Jason Alan Spyres,

Logan

and, Grant Larson, wrote to the following to the Decatur Tribune:

POLITICIANS ARE SELLING OUT PRISON INDUSTRIES

Dear Editor:

In 2009, Representative Bill Mitchell (R) Forsyth, proposed that inmates sleep in tents and work road crews. Bill’s ideas seem humorous. In my opinion, Bill and other politicians have been selling out the prison industries since the 1960’s.

The soy “magic” meal that was intended to feed those in a disaster is being force fed to us. The health issues are endless. The lucrative soy contract, no doubt, benefitted a politician. In fact, beef can be purchased cheaper than soy. Mary Ann Bohlen, assistant deputy director of fiscal accounting compliance for IDOC was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by state police. We can only wonder what the results of that investigation will cost.

If we show initiative or a willingness to work, the motive is questioned. With no good conduct incentive, no work ethic is being promoted. Drug treatment and vocational programs should be a priority. There are a lot of wasted acres within IDOC. They no longer raise any livestock or produce that could be used to feed inmates and lessen the cost to taxpayers. Every Illinois prisoner has a release date. Drug treatment and work release with restitution should be mandatory for drug related crimes. Work release needs to be required for reentry to society.

Road crews and tent living would put spoiled AFSCME officers on foot patrol and horseback. They would want more than a 2% raise. Some watchdog group would protect the inmates from work too. Who is robbing who?

Grant Larson,

Inmate at Logan Correctional Center

Lincoln


Illinois prisontalk (IPT) is critical of anyone spreading rumors about when Meritorious Good Time (MGT) credit is likely to return for IL prisoners. IPT doesn’t want to create false expectations among IL inmates and their families. This past Spring session, however, IPT online forum leaders succumbed to temptation and  disregarded IPT’s own goal. IPT engaged it’s members in a misguided effort to contact legislators to support passage of specific criminal bills in the General Assembly which had no effect on the reinstatement of MGT but only served to toughen criminal penalties on offenders. Fortunately, most of the bills IPT advocated passing in Spring died at the end of the legislative session.

With the general, prevailing, public opinion being anti-offender and pro-punishment, IL General Assembly members need no additional encouragement to toughen criminal penalties and send more people to prison. Instead, legislators and local courts and counties need to understand that no matter how much money we spend housing prisoners and getting offenders off the streets for any maximum length of time, our capacity to hold prisoners in IL is finite, and ultimately they will return to our communities. If they are merely warehoused and all rehabilitation efforts made are only lip-service; then they return to our communities better criminals than when they left with no incentive to change; and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again. IL already virtually tops the list of our nation’s states for it’s incarcerate numbers. At this time of stubborn recession, state taxpayers and society cannot afford to foot this bill.

The IL fall legislative veto session to due to get underway on October 25, 2011. It consists of six short days in which major legislative budgetary issues from the past year still remain to be resolved. Again, during the last couple of weeks, the IPT online forum was abuzz with advice by IPT that new legislation regarding MGT was to be drawn up and passed during the fall veto session. As the message now posted at IPT indicates, this was merely rumor. There is no possibility that any Corrections bills dealing with the MGT issue will be considered at the fall session. As, we have previously advised, no legislative changes will occur to resolve the overcrowding in the IL Department of Corrections (IDOC) or promote any sort of “early release” initiatives until the Spring legislative session in 2012, at the earliest.

We have said that Governor Pat Quinn, retains control over what happens at IDOC and over any departmental initiatives to relieve state prison over-crowding. This remains accurate. Quinn could reinstate MGT in some form, if he chose to. What has become increasingly apparent over time is that Quinn, having taken political heat from first attempting to increase the release of state prisoners, is not going to stick his neck out again on this issue. Consequently, he has not been responsive to pressure to reinstate MGT in any form until he is ready. Moreover, Quinn has demonstrated a habit of extreme rationalization to justify his political opportunism. He has reneged on agreements made to political allies when politically expedient to do so, simply on the belief that he will get what he wants in the short-term and can afford to leave the rest for the courts to sort out down the road. Perhaps this is the legacy of Rod Blagovich, who also operated in the same manner when he was governor; just with more flamboyance.

What this means is that Quinn is unlikely to do anything progressive to resolve prison condition problems and overcrowding until the last minute and even then, only if he is forced to so by lawsuits and legal actions. He will not be willing to compromise. So prison reform advocate groups such those which IPT are allied with are going to have to do more than advocate for the return of MGT; they are going to have to sue the state. We suggest that the sooner they prepare to do so the better!

« on: October 20, 2011, 08:43:24 PM »

Hello members:

For those with their hopes set high that MGT will be reinstated anytime soon this isn’t good news.  It’s time to wipe away the past rumors, pending legislation, and speculations of the restoral of MGT in 2011.  It’s not going to happen.  The past pending legislation wasn’t really legislation that would’ve restored MGT anyway….it was just legislation to toughen up the criteria for those released IF it’s ever restored.  It makes little difference whether it was passed or not.

The ultimate decision lands on Gov. Quinn, who has expressed many times that he’s not about to restore MGT any time soon…if ever.  It’s a political timebomb that he’s unlikely to put himself within arm’s reach again.  He likes his job.

So we’re going to clean the slate and start again in Square 1.  Forget everything that has happened in the past…

Everyone knows and agrees that the IDOC is crowded…this isn’t the first time it’s been overcrowded and it hasn’t exploded yet.  If the IDOC and Quinn were worried about rioting or anything else explosive they have alternatives to release inmates….regardless of MGT.

Just because nothing was resolved in 2011 it hasn’t stopped a handful of activists that are still hoping to move the Governor to restore MGT.  They are preparing to draft legislation that will be introduced in the Spring session…

It’s impossible to get it included in the Fall session of the Legislature.  It must wait until Spring and it’s going to need backing from the public.  This informal group of activists met recently to discuss the best possible plan of action and this will begin with a public meeting to discuss overcrowding within the IDOC…probably in late November or early December.  We will notify you of the date and particulars when they are decided upon.  Encouraging attempts are being made to sign on legislators to sponsor this new bill.

Let me remind you that even with successful legislation Quinn still has the ultimate power to approve the restoration of MGT.

Suggestions are being formulated for the contents of  this bill, including a revision of MGT as it was previously implemented, and the criteria for inmates to receive MGT/SMGT.

There is nothing carved in stone so please don’t speculate or ask a thousand questions….there’s nothing more to tell you.

In the meantime the IDOC may possibly solve some of it’s own problems by finding creative ways to release inmates earlier than scheduled…if so, we know nothing about it and don’t want to hear all the rumors again.  Look what all the rumors have done in the past 20 months?  There’ve been a thousand posts here about it…and plenty of arguments and bickering over something that everyone hopes will benefit our inmates.

If inmates are released early, for whatever reason, that’s something to celebrate.

When MGT was suspended I cautioned everyone here that it would be an uphill battle and that it wasn’t likely that MGT would be restored.  I still stand by that….but there’s always hope as influential people are working on a solution.  When the time is right they will ask for our help here at IPT and we’ll keep you informed how you might help.

Daz