Posts Tagged ‘Is Good time reinstated’


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

 

 

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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.

 


Full Text of Press Release from State of IL, Governor Pat Quinn’s Office website

Governor Quinn Signs Laws to Improve Public Safety and Criminal Justice in Illinois
New Laws Will Crack Down on Crime; Continue to Manage Prison Population and Encourage Positive Behavior

CHICAGO – June 22, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed several new laws that together will improve public safety and criminal justice in Illinois. Senate Bill 2621 increases accountability in the state’s prison system by setting new guidelines that strengthen the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) ability to manage the state’s prison population. Forty-six other states have adopted similar laws, which also encourage non-violent offenders to pursue positive rehabilitation strategies.“Ensuring public safety is my top priority,” Governor Quinn said. “This is good criminal justice policy and good public safety policy that will manage our prison population and make non-violent offenders less likely to commit crime in the future.”SB 2621, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), passed both houses with bi-partisan support and has been endorsed by many criminal justice organizations, including the John Howard Association. The law increases safety inside prisons by allowing DOC to award sentence credit to non-violent offenders who have shown willingness to correct their behavior through successful completion of rehabilitation.Sentencing credit has existed in Illinois law since 1978 but under the new law, inmates would only be eligible to receive sentence credit after serving at least 60 days in DOC custody. Inmates who display appropriate, positive behavior will be reviewed and evaluated by DOC to determine whether they are eligible to receive credit. Under the new law, DOC will consider and evaluate an inmate’s prior offenses, the circumstances of the inmate’s current holding offense, as well as the offender’s potential for rehabilitation prior to the decision to award sentencing credit. DOC will also have the right to revoke credit if an inmate demonstrates negative or violent behavior. As a result of the Governor’s 2009 Crime Reduction Act, there will also be a risk assessment tool in place this year to ensure that sentences are administered according to individual evaluation of the inmate.

SB 2621 also increases transparency by requiring DOC to provide annual reports to the Governor and General Assembly containing program statistics, how the new policies are being implemented and how sentence credit is being awarded. Additionally, county state’s attorneys, county sheriffs and the committing county will receive notification two weeks prior to an inmate’s release.

In order to qualify for sentencing credit, inmates will be required to successfully complete rehabilitation treatments, which could include substance abuse treatment, adult education, and behavior modification or life skills programs. Inmates may also receive sentence credit for passing the Test of General Educational Development (GED) while in DOC custody.

“Presenting inmates with an additional incentive for good behavior will improve the environment inside our facilities and allow the department to focus our efforts on violent criminals,” said Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez. “Eligible inmates will now have the benefit of receiving sentence credit appropriately and responsibly as the department continues to look for effective, safe and secure methods of managing state prisons.”

SB 2621 is effective immediately.

Governor Quinn also signed additional laws to increase public safety and protect children from predators. Senate Bill 3579, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn), prohibits sex offenders from participating in holiday celebrations where minors are present, for example handing out candy on Halloween. The law goes into effect Jan. 1. Senate Bill 3809, sponsored by Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago) and Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville), enables park districts to have criminal background checks performed to determine whether a job applicant is a delinquent minor for committing certain offenses, such as sexual assault. The law goes into effect immediately.

Senate Bill 3258, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Scott Penny (D-Belleville), clarifies violations included in the Sex Offender Registry, and prevents arrest records for reckless driving from being sealed before the offender reaches the age of 25. The law goes into effect Jan. 1. House Bill 4590, sponsored by Rep. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), adds new information, such as known gang affiliations, to inmate record files housed at the Department of Corrections. The law is effective immediately.

Update: The IL Department of Correction maintains a Questions and Answers area on it’s website to familiarize visitors with department policies and procedures. The new law passed regarding sentence credits will cause IDOC to revise some of the information posted in that section about good time credits. For now, IDOC has updated that section with the following statement:

Please note: in accordance with Public Act 97-0697 (effective 6/22/2012) the above types of credit have been amended along with other changes.  The Department has started examining and identifying policies and/or rules for revisions that may need to be promulgated through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

This statement is the best indicator so far as to how long it will take IDOC to release any inmates early. Since it states that changes will have to be made, you can pretty much bet that the department will not act quickly to release anyone. It will more likely take until sometime after the November elections before early releases get started.


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.


State of the state

James Krohe Jr.

Gov. Quinn takes a pass on early prison release plan

by Jamey Dunn

Instead of using what arguably was the biggest scandal during his time in office as a chance to reform a broken system, Gov. Pat Quinn stuck his head in the sand as Illinois’ prison population reached an all-time high.

An escalated version of the Meritorious Good Time early prisoner release program, dubbed MGT “Push,” became the subject of controversy in 2009 and a talking point for Republicans during the 2010 general election. The Associated Press uncovered an administrative tweak to the program that allowed prisoners to apply credit for good behavior to their sentences almost immediately. Previously, the Illinois Department of Corrections had required prisoners to wait 61 days before using any such credits. Under MGT Push, the waiting period was changed to 11 days. So, many of those sentenced to short terms were released before they moved on to the corrections system.

The state released 1,745 prisoners under MGT Push. On average, they served 36 fewer days than their sentences. The AP found that some inmates released under the plan had violent records. The DOC also failed to properly notify local law enforcement officials when prisoners were being released. In some cases, notification was not given at all. According to a report from Quinn’s office: “MGT Push resulted in the earlier release of hundreds of inmates, including more than 100 serving sentences for violent offenses, after as few as 11 days in DOC custody.” The revelation resulted in negative press for Quinn heading into his first bid to be elected governor.

So he did what any politician — and reasonable executive — would do in the same situation. He halted all early release programs and ordered a top to bottom review. Quinn brought in Judge David Erickson to work on a panel that took a look at the Meritorious Good Time program. Erickson concluded that the Quinn administration had taken a flawed program and made it worse. The report said that the focus of the program should be a rewards system meant to encourage good behavior and a desire for rehabilitation, not just a way to cut down on numbers. “The department must fundamentally change its attitude and approach toward MGT credit awards. Despite Illinois’ dire economic state and the very real need to maximize control of facilities, these programs should not simply be population pressure release valves; they must be, first and foremost, a means to incent and reward good conduct that shows a genuine rehabilitative intent. This will not only benefit the individual inmate but also the community he or she will reenter.”

At the time of the report, Quinn vowed to fix the program. “These problems at the Department of Corrections are systemic, they’re longstanding, there’s lots of flaws, they need to be corrected. And I’m going to do that,” Quinn said. But two years later, the DOC has no plans to start a new-and-improved Meritorious Good Time program in the foreseeable future. As a result, advocates say that overcrowding, especially at lower security prisons, is getting worse. According to a spokesperson for the DOC, the prison population has not substantially changed since it reached its peak of 48,743 in May 2011. An October quarterly report from the department projects that the population will reach 49,615 by September 2012.

Malcolm Young, who serves on an advisory board for DOC, says that after the MGT Push scandal, word from the Quinn administration was that there were plans to reform and relaunch the Meritorious Good Time Program, but he says “nothing materialized.”

Young, who is also director of the Program for Prison Reentry Strategies with the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law, says: “The fact that it hasn’t been done yet, it’s actually kind of mind boggling.”

“When a window for reform opens, it can close very quickly,” says John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison watchdog group.

Maki says that in the wake of the MGT Push scandal, the idea of reinstating an early release program is a nonstarter with the Quinn administration. “It is dead,” he says. “It’s politically poisonous.” Maki and other advocates argue that the program has been in use in Illinois since the 1970s as a way to control prison populations as well as encourage good behavior from prisoners. “MGT was around for 30-plus years. It was something that administrations from both parties used. It was noncontroversial. … This is a standard practice in corrections.”

He says that overcrowding in Illinois prisons is by no means caused by the lack of an early release program for the last two years. He says the problem is a result of “decades of bad laws and policies” that will take a “multi-pronged solution” to tackle. However, he says that reinstating the Meritorious Good Time program could help to address serious problems at some of the state’s minimum- and medium-security lockups. “The minimum [security prisons] don’t tend to get a lot of press and don’t get a lot of attention.” But Maki says his group, which tours correctional facilities and issues reports on them, has found “inhumane” conditions at some of the lower security facilities. He says these offenders, who are often not locked up for violent crimes, would be the ideal candidates for early release based on good behavior.

He points to the association’s review of the Vandalia Correctional Center in 2011. The minimum-security prison was designed to hold 1,100 but instead holds 1,748. The state considers the prison to be at operational capacity. However, when association monitors visited the facility, inmates were housed in standing water in rain-flooded basements. The association’s report links the conditions directly to the state’s lack of a Meritorious Good Time program. “[John Howard Association monitors] found the conditions in these lower-level dormitory basements to be unsafe, unsanitary and unacceptable. The blame lies not with Vandalia’s administration, however, but with the Illinois governor and legislature, who created this deplorable situation. The suspension of Meritorious Good Time credit (MGT) in December 2010 by the Illinois governor has greatly exacerbated prison overcrowding — particularly in minimum- security facilities like Vandalia, whose low-level, non-violent offender populations are most affected by MGT’s suspension. Despite this crisis in overcrowding, the governor and legislature have refused to address the issue or take prudent action to replace MGT,” the report said.

“As a direct result of MGT’s suspension, Vandalia was forced to absorb more than 300 additional inmates into a facility already bursting at its seams with a population that far exceeds its design capacity. Consequently, the only place to house the additional inmates is in dormitory basements, which [monitors] found to be neither safe nor suitable as living quarters.”

Maki said that during a recent visit to the Vienna Correctional Center, another minimum-security prison, monitors found a similar situation, with inmates being housed in a lower level that had broken windows and was infested with cockroaches, birds and mice. According to the DOC, Vienna, which was designed to hold 925, has a population of 1,902. The state says that the prison has a so-called operational capacity of 1,887. As of press time, the John Howard Association had yet to release its report on the Vienna facility.

The state’s classification of operational capacity started popping up in reports last year. It is defined in DOC reports as “the maximum number of inmates a facility can hold.” The “design” or “rated” capacity of a facility is the capacity of the institution when it was built. The design capacity of the state corrections system is 33,703, but the operational capacity is 51,229. So according to the DOC, there’s room left.

“We’re not there yet,” says Sharyn Elman, a spokeswoman for DOC. “We’re still maintaining our numbers under that threshold.” Elman said Quinn’s administration knows there is work to be done. She says DOC is focusing on other tools, such as Adult Redeploy Illinois. That program is based on the successful juvenile model, which seeks to rehabilitate offenders through community programs, such as addiction counseling, instead of prison time.

However, Maki, Young and Erickson agree that good time credits can be used as a tool to reward positive behavior in prisoners and encourage them to work toward rehabilitation.

“Illinois is pretty much at a crisis in terms of overcrowding. I think that it’s not being acknowledged by the administration,” Young says. While the state seems to have adopted a policy of denial when it comes to the problems in its corrections system, Illinoisans are also culpable. We cannot have unrealistic expectations of our state. We must demand that our government act in a competent, humane and open way. What we cannot demand is that it protects us from every evil that could potentially befall us. But few of us want to live in a society that locks up all criminals and throws away the key. And even if we do, we simply cannot afford it unless we want to fund nothing but prison costs.

Unfortunately, this forces us to confront inherent risks of our society. Some criminals will reform, and some will reoffend. Focused screening and requirements for early release, which exclude violent offenders from eligibility, and programs that can help inmates make the difficult transition back into society can improve the odds. But we have to accept that some people who get out will offend again and sometimes even violently.

Maki says that public backlash over scandals in the criminal justice system stem from the basic human desire of all individuals “wanting to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones.” However, he says that instead of being reactionary, we must look to what works. “Incarcerating this many people does not keep you safe,’’ because prisoners at present lack access to rehabilitation programs.

While half-baked plans such as MGT Push, which was carried out sloppily and without public notifications, spur righteous outrage, such high profile scandals should not bar the way for effective policies geared toward real goals: encouraging rehabilitation, improving prison conditions and spending less money on incarceration. It seems the Meritorious Good Time program needs some work, as well as some changes to the law, to become focused on such goals. But having survived the scandal of MGT Push, Quinn could be just the guy to get the ball rolling.

Illinois Issues, January 2012

Yes, Early Release is possible, but will it happen?

After many false hopes and promises, for the first time since December 2009, it looks like the legal mechanism or fix required to allow the IL Department of Corrections (IDOC) to reinstate some form of early release for certain, well-behaved, non-violent prisoners will happen shortly. In the next few days, through a ground-swell of bipartisan effort, the Illinois legislature will likely show it’s compassion for the thousands of Illinois inmates and their families who have suffered prison overcrowding and worsening prison conditions simply because they have been stuck in IDOC at the wrong time, after Governor Pat Quinn’s suspension of all IDOC awarding of Meritorious Good Time credits (MGT)(which previously allowed prisoner sentences to be shortened).

The state legislature’s action is a tribute to the many individuals and organizations which have worked so hard to educate our legislative members regarding the punitive nature and counter-productive effects of Quinn’s actions in eliminating MGT. Just about everybody dealing with some aspect of the state criminal justice system devoted their time and energies to contacting legislators and encouraging them to piece together the individual aspects of Senate Bill 2621. The bill is likely to squeak by and pass both houses before the May 31st end of the legislative session. (Read article below)

Revamped Illinois prison release plan moves to House

The real question is: Will Senate Bill 2621 be signed and implemented by Governor Pat Quinn?

Senate Bill 2621 has a lot of fanfare going for it, but it will not be the panacea for anyone serving less than a year in IDOC now. Readers with a short sentence cannot depend on the Governor either signing the bill or implementing it. Quinn will have up to six months to decide if he wants to sign the bill into law in the first place. While he is likely to face public pressure to sign the bill, Quinn has been known to procrastinate to the max when he really does not want to do something, and it has become apparent to many observers that Governor Quinn does not like the idea of any early release program going into effect under his stewardship.

All along, Governor Quinn has really been arguably two-faced about the reinstatement of MGT or any sort of early release program. As the January 2012, Illinois Issues article above points out, whenever prodded, Quinn has paid lip-service to the urgency of IDOC resolving the issue of the MGT suspension. Yet, time after time, IDOC under Quinn failed to develop any program or take any of the steps needed to reinstate early release. When finally cornered, the Quinn administration countered with the assertion that he could not authorize any early release program permitting eligibility to any violent offender.

Well, Senate Bill 2621 and state legislators, naively or otherwise, are calling Quinn’s bluff, by giving him law to enforce which will meet the provisions which Quinn set forth for early release. It remains to be seen how Quinn will respond. Our bet is that Quinn will delay signage of the bill at least for several months and then implement it slowly, if at all. Our guesstimation is that readers should not look for an implementation of early release before this November and more probably not until sometime in 2013. Our impression is that Quinn believes that he fulfilled his obligation to state prisoners when he abolished the Death Penalty in IL, and that he feels that the rest of state prisoners are responsible for where they happen to be. We are certain that Quinn will continue to come up with plenty of sleight-of-hand excuses to distract us from his deliberate inaction regarding early release and worsening prison conditions.

In the meantime, hard-won legislative victories such as Senate Bill 2621 are really few and far between, so give yourselves some applause!

 

 


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


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

 

Forget about the IL Fall Veto Session beginning October 25, 2011. The veto session is going to be consumed by budget issues. No decisions made will resolve the horrible prison over-crowding in Illinois. If Meritorious Good Time (MGT) is even mentioned by legislators, it will not be in the context of them having the power to resurrect it.

Governor Pat Quinn is the person with the ability to act to reduce the present prison population in some manner; and he has chosen not to act until possibly 2012. Sharon Ellman, a spokesperson for the IL Department of Corrections has stated multiple times that there is presently no plan for MGT to return. Well, we are getting the idea that she is correct.

Governor Pat Quinn has had plenty on his plate this year with the budget occupying his attention. He apparently does not regard the denial of MGT or any supplemental credit for inmates (even minor offenders) to be a hardship on inmates or MGT something they are deserving of. So, he is not now considering any action to reduce the prison population.  Truth is, with his proposed cuts and closures, he may feel there is room to squeeze in more bodies into some state facilities.

The only action on the IL Department of Corrections agenda is the combination of all their 49 or so separate computer and data sources into one database in conjunction with the Microsoft Offender 360 software program it is adapting. This process of computer changeover has been going on for awhile now, and lots of inmates report that facility computers are mostly crashing down for extended periods of time because of problems in the changeover. Since the computers are relied upon by CO’s for just about everything, inmates are going weeks and some times multiple months without access to commissary, and movement and supply restrictions are being arbitrarily applied when the computers cannot be accessed.

The database integration to Offender 360 is not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2012. Who knows when, since it is likely to be delayed as more problems will arise.

Don’t expect Quinn to plan or authorize any meaningful early release of inmates until the computer switchover is completed. Quinn’s indifference to the prison over-crowding issues won’t end until he is either sure all Corrections procedures and technology is in place to handle releasing anyone without mistakes being made, or else he is publicly pressured to act.

Quinn has put himself out there to battle with the legislature to get more money for this year’s budget. We encourage readers to contact legislators and give them your perspective as to why he should be criticized and held accountable for numerous mistakes including inaction on prison overcrowding issues.

The next step on the state improvement agenda, after fixing Offender 360, is devising a new audit and accounting system to implement across the board for all state agencies (which now each maintain their own antiquated and costly systems). We certainly don’t want to wait for that computer change…


First of all, readers are advised not to panic!

Websites are awash with concerned readers. There is some heavy politiking going on at the state level in Springfield right now with the Governor making threats and noises about cutting state employees and facilities. It is just NOISE and Pat Quinn positioning himself. What will come out of all this postering is nothing in the short-term and October, and possibly little that is productive in the long-run.

BUT THIS DOES PRESENT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE INTERESTED TO HOLD GOVERNOR PAT QUINN TO ACCOUNTABILITY!

Below are some of the scary articles coming out since Governor Pat Quinn started claiming that he is poised on the brink of announcing layoffs across several agencies and closing down several facilities in order to meet the budget:

Quinn plans layoffs, facility closings

Gov. Quinn says job ‘reductions’ needed

One fewer prison, more inmate crowding possible for Illinois

Pontiac and Vandalia prisons are both being tossed around as the correctional facilities most likely to be targeted for closure by Pat Quinn. Quinn may carry through on his threats by announcing layoffs and closure in the coming weeks, but as the above articles indicate and the below articles spell out; Quinn’s ability to carry out his threats is largely hollow because of the significant obstacles he would have to overcome, including a couple of them he created himself.

First of all, Quinn so far, has not gotten his way. The state legislature sent him a budget $2.2 billion short of what he wanted. Quinn was unable to sweet-talk the legislature into borrowing money to cover that short-fall during the last legislative session, and since May, Quinn has not found enough cuts to make in the budget they sent him to cover it. So, Quinn wants to force the legislature into approving a supplemental appropriation for the year during the fall veto session which begins October 25, 2011.

Quinn has the state already being challenged in court for renegment on an agreement he made with the public employees union, AFSCME, by not allowing pay raises as scheduled to state employees. Now, he will supposedly claim that the union has not kept the terms of another agreement with them not to layoff staff and close facilities as an basis to claim that he can can do so. He will be quickly challenged in court on the layoffs and proposed closures, and it is very unlikely that any court will rule in his favor. The legal process to implement any of these will be lengthy and is also complicated by the fact as discussed below, the legislature has made it more difficult now for IL governors to simply close any facility:

Quinn can’t just talk about closings

Quinn must justify facility closings under state law

Whether Quinn will succeed in getting more money from this legislature this fall is an open question. He is unlikely to succeed in closing anything and cutting staff. AFSCME is taking a common-sense, lets all cut through the BS posturing in it’s budget perspective:

…“Our state urgently needs leadership. Rather than disrupt vital services and add to Illinois’ already alarmingly high unemployment rate, the governor should work with the General Assembly to forestall service cuts and layoffs. The necessary funding is available if the legislature takes action when it returns for the veto session. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability reports that revenue is coming in this year at higher than projected levels.

“We call on the governor and the legislative leaders to work together for the good of our state. This is not a time for partisanship or finger-pointing. It’s a time to work together to ensure that essential services to maintain public safety and meet human needs can continue to be provided. AFSCME stands ready to be part of that effort.”…

By using such an aggressive and antagonistic approach now to resolve the budget dilemna he has been grappling with all year, Pat Quinn, may be biting himself and fellow democrats in the rear-end. Pat Quinn appears to feel that the decisions he is making and carrying out are “morally” the “right thing to do”, but he is far from invulnerable in his position of moral superiority. Enough time has passed from his election win to reveal that Quinn lacks decisive leadership. Indeed, his procrastination on major issues and actions since then has squandered any voter momentum from the last election and leaves even republicans looking good.

Quinn’s actions make him a target for Republicans and AFSCME and other unions who should now realize that any agreements he makes with them are only politically expedient and will be broken by him when required. Voters, politicians, and interested parties should now be focusing their scutiny on Quinn for unnecessarily creating social and economic havoc on a grand scale. Quinn is poised to try to make public employees and social service agencies pawns to his political agenda as he has done for the past year and a half to prison inmates and their families.

As Quinn’s campaign unrolls, this is an opportunity for those concerned (and we urge our readers to do so) to contact the media, AFSCME, and Quinn’s Republican critics to calmly point out to them that Quinn is calling on others to make huge sacrifices in terms of jobs, funding, and closures, at a time when he is costing the state to incur millions of dollars in additional costs and prison over-crowding simply because he has failed to reinstate the awarding of Meritorious Good Time (MGT) credits for state inmates or otherwise resolve the problem and escalated costs of state prison over-crowding. The state of IL Department of Corrections has been patiently stacking, racking, and packing in mostly low-level offenders without respite since December 2009, when Quinn suspended further awarding of MGT. It needs to be pointed out to them that not only has Quinn procrastinated over this time, but that he has been allowed to be silent and not provide any public explanation as to how much longer these additional costs to taxpayers of at least $17,000 per year per inmate will continue before he acts and to explain what his solution will be.

Real pain and suffering are being endured currently by those within the corrections system. The state prison over-crowding issue has become so bad that even some Republicans are beginning to sound the alarm, as in the article below. Even they are advocating that the state urgently needs to see some form of inmate “early release”program happen as soon as possible:

Lawmakers see ‘train wreck’ with prison overcrowding, understaffing

IL inmates have gone through a summer of humanly intolerable temperatures outside and within prison facilities which are out-dated and which not only lack air-conditioning, but which are built to aggravate temperatures within facilities. Inmates have been housed in gyms and in basements, corridors, and any place a cot can be put. The conditions reported below are not new. Vandalia prison had the same conditions reported last summer with water in basements and mold. It has just taken the John Howard Association a year to get there to tour the facility and to issue this report. Vandalia is not alone with these problems and so far IDOC is just trying to keep the lid on an explosive situation.

Group outlines harsh conditions at Ill. prison


The article below is written by Kurt Erickson and appears on http://www.thesouthern.com. Erickson is one of the few politically savy Illinois media investigative reporters who have been following the long saga and potentially embarrassing story of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s single-handled responsibility for creating a huge fiscal mess for Illinois when he first cut off all discretionary early release efforts to release state inmates by the Illinois Department of Corrections in December 2009, and how Quinn has since then failed to act in any manner to resolve the subsequent massive overcrowding of state prisons which resulted from his action.

This is a huge political story and a wholly, self-created dilemma for the Governor that Republican legislators and fiscal critics should be jumping all over Quinn on. If played up properly by his opponents, he negative publicity Quinn deserves on this issue could suffice to render him and the Democratic party (which is mute on urging Quinn to resolve it) highly vulnerable at the polls come next election.

Basically, at a time when the State is already fiscally broke, Quinn’s action is making all state prisons, “rack, stack, and pack” prisoners who are mostly small-time, minor offenders, which the state can ill-afford to house. Quinn has added millions of dollars to the cost of state corrections, not because he first suspended the early release programs, but because he has since procrastinated since cutting off the programs by failing to take any intermediate actions to resolve the prison overcrowding or to control the actions of IDOC staff at facilites.

Evidently, Quinn’s modius operandi is to procrastinate well beyond any reasonable time period over all important issues. He has dragged his heels over policy and fiscal issues before, but the IDOC prison overcrowding affects the lives and well-being of many families and individuals.

_____________________________________________________________

BY KURT ERICKSON/the Southern.com

SPRINGFIELD – The Quinn administrations decision to continue cramming more inmates into already overcrowded prisons could put the state on the road to a lawsuit.

After packing its own prisons too tightly for decades, California officials were ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in May to slash the inmate population to 137 percent of what the overall system was designed to hold.

That has left the state scrambling to dump more than 30,000 prisoners into county-level jails or privately operated lock-ups over the next two years.

In recent months, however, officials changed the way they calculate capacity.

Instead of using an industry standard based on the number of cells, the state is now measuring capacity based on how many beds can fit in a facility. The new capacity for Illinois prisons is listed at 51,000 inmates.

A key attorney in the California lawsuit says Illinois revamped measuring stick is similar to claiming a three bedroom home can actually sleep 25 people if beds are placed in living rooms, laundry rooms and storage spaces.

“Technically, they can stack triple bunks in every room,” said Rebekah Evenson, a Berkeley-based attorney who helped shepherd the California lawsuit through the legal system.

John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group, said that bureaucratic maneuver could land the state in hot water.”Thats what California got in trouble for,” Maki said. “Were seeing the same kind of stuff.”

DOC differs

Corrections spokeswoman Sharyn Elman said the new capacity number reflects changes that have been made to the original design of the prisons, allowing the agency to say the state is operating at 95 percent capacity.

“Here in Illinois our prison population is not at the over-capacity level,”

Elman noted.Elman, however, said an attempt by the department to gain national accreditation was dropped after the inmate population began to grow. As part of the American Correctional Association accreditation process, prisons must meet certain specifications for square footage per inmate – a standard that may not be possible for Illinois given the additional prisoners.

Evenson said recalculating capacity based on bed space is “very, very irresponsible” because it could lead to numerous problems.

Crowding typically results in more violence behind bars. It also likely means fewer educational opportunities, which already had been reduced because of Illinois on-going budget woes.

“Mentally ill people become sicker,” Evenson said.

The increase in prisoners also has raised concerns about flat or reduced staffing levels of prison guards.

On Thursday, two Republican state senators are planning a press conference designed to spotlight staffing levels within the Department of Corrections. State Sens. John O. Jones of Mount Vernon and Shane Cultra of Onarga both represent districts that have a number of overcrowded prisons within their boundaries.

Solutions?

For now, however, it doesnt appear the Quinn administration has a solution in sight.

There are no plans on the books to build more prisons to help ease overcrowding. In fact, Illinois is in the process of selling an unused maximum-security prison to the federal government.

The department also has not made any public announcements about whether or when it will reinstate an early release program.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents corrections workers, said overcrowding has made the states prison system more dangerous than usual.

“Ignoring the problem is unacceptable,” noted AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. “The state must hire staff to ensure safety and provide rehabilitative programs, and it must develop and implement a responsible good-time policy.”

via Illinois headed toward a prison meltdown?.


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

Please note: when contacting Quinn’s office by phone, you will speak with a staffer, who will first try to feed you the line “THEY” haven’t let us know anything about when it will come back or what is happening with it; we just know that it is suspended. The staffer makes it sound like Quinn is waiting on someone else to move first. But, if you press the issue and let the staffer know that you are aware that Quinn has the power to reinstate it and that IDOC is working on it, so why hasn’t Quinn given at least announced a tentative timetable to reinstate it, etc., and talk harm, then the staffer switches to “He” hasn’t let them know, in a tone that becomes more hostile :). Just gotta keep pushing!

It is now June 18, 2011, and the January – May, Illinois legislative session is over.

It was unexpected, but our state legislators ended up accomplishing a lot during the session. Observers attribute this to the influence on legislators of fiscal problems and the possibility of dwindling political power. Whatever the reasons, legislators were not only able to raise taxes for the first time in decades, but also agreed to pass a state budget instead of dumping all fiscal responsibility into the lap of the governor as they have repeatedly done over the past 5 – 6 years. State legislators  deserve credit for finally knuckling down and doing their jobs, even if it did took them all session to do so and left many lesser, important issues unresolved. We politely applaud the work of our legislators and now turn our scrutiny to IL Governor Pat Quinn.

This legislative session saw the same “get tough on crime” sentiment from legislators as in the past few years. There were about the same number of bills introduced and passed this session as in during the past few years which were either intended to harshen criminal penalties for specific crimes, criminalize more actions, or else intensify the reporting requirements for parolees or IDOC. In that respect, despite all the 2010 electoral furor and hype over crime and public safety which led Quinn to suspend Meritorious Good Time Credit (MGT) for prison inmates in the first place, the 2011 legislative session was not dominated by a continuation of public safety concerns being expressed by either legislators or the public. Governor Quinn has not and was not at any time during this legislative session held hostage to any demands by others that either particular legislation be proposed or passed dealing with the issue of MGT regulations. Plenty of anti-crime bills were proposed, but they were all individual and unrelated bills which did not coalesce into a huge campaign targeted at determining or really reducing Quinn’s and IDOC’s control over MGT.

MGT was just a dot on the horizon at this legislative session. Sure, some horribly egregious “anti-crime legislation” was passed, such as the “murderers registry” which will continue to keep IL at the top of the list of a select number of “idiot” states committed to financial suicide under the erroneous belief that their taxpayers can afford to pay the massive costs of maintaining burgeoning state prison populations. But, by and large, legislators paid relatively little attention to “public safety” issues. Even Illinoisprisontalk’s, (in our opinion), misguided attempt to help legislators push a tougher MGT agenda through failed to draw legislative interest and reportedly had an outright hostile response from Quinn’s administration. A number of serious, large, anti-crime bills simply either failed to pass this session or were not seriously pursued, and legislators were instead embroiled the whole session with mainly trying to determine the state budget.

If this legislative session revealed anything, it is that the power to reinstate the awarding of Meritorious Good Time Credits (MGT) to the inmates of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), rests entirely on the political ambitions of Gov. Pat Quinn.

As most observers, we assumed this year that our state legislators had to take action to pass new laws or otherwise enact new guidelines for MGT before Gov. Pat Quinn could feel empowered enough to risk his political neck by taking any action to reinstate MGT.  However, this quiet legislative session proved us wrong to assume that Governor Quinn has ever required any outside impetus to reinstate MGT. Instead, we have to tell readers that, in our opinion, Governor Quinn could have reinstated MGT  at any time since January 2011, without facing massive political fallout. That Governor Quinn has not permitted IDOC to reinstate MGT or even issued a public explanation as to why he has not done so reveals to us a callous disregard for the hardships he has imposed upon the lives of IL inmates and their families and an unconcern for his public accountability on an important issue.

There is no question that Gov. Pat Quinn bears the overall responsibility for the suspension of meritorious good time credit for Illinois prison inmates and the resulting negative ways it has impacted inmates and their families since he suspended the program in December 2009. Since 1978, attorneys and the courts have been advising inmates to include the expectation of receiving MGT credit time of 90 – 180 days off a sentence for good conduct during incarceration as the basis to use in order to evaluate plea negotiations and to soften the estimate of how much of any given sentence they would have to serve.

Even right now,  from  December 13, 2009, when Governor Pat Quinn suspended the program, to the present, most individuals receiving sentences or accepting plea deals who are faced with going to prison today still receive the assurances from their attorneys and court personnel that they can expect to receive some amount of MGT time off their sentence. It is only when they arrive at IDOC to serve their sentences that most individuals are finding out that they are misled and that they will probably have to serve their full sentences, especially if it is less than several years. This false advice that individuals will be released earlier by months or by a year is wreaking massive havoc with the personal lives and arrangements families make in order to plan their survival while a member is incarcerated. In these difficult economic times, whole families are being placed at the unnecessary and additional financial and/or health risk by the false assumption that a wage-earner or head-of-household will be incarcerated for less time than they will actually be forced to serve.

Quinn has not acted in any manner to reduce these negative consequences of the suspension of MGT upon the lives of inmates or their families.  Quinn’s state agency, IDOC has been a rumor mill working overtime at the outset of each month since December 2009, feeding inmates a line of BS about the probable and shortly anticipated return and reinstatement of MGT; a rumor which just never happens to be true.  Right now, the rumor-mill is reporting that MGT will return July 1, 2011, when in reality this is just another false date, even if it is the start of the next fiscal year for the state. If Quinn was concerned about mitigating the effects of IDOC staff misinforming inmates about when MGT would return, he could easily and quickly have put a stop to IDOC staff MGT rumor-mill, but he has not done so. The IDOC staff rumor mill continues to churn. IL inmates have just increasingly learned to be wary of it since being burned on so many occasions, but those new to IDOC continue to fall into it’s trap.

At the minimum, after this substantial and legally questionable delay in state action on MGT, it is long overdue, and it would be a moral step in the right direction for Quinn to wade in and to immediately force all state agencies, attorneys, and court personnel to stop mis-advising inmates regarding the suspension of MGT and the timing of any possible return of MGT.

QUINN NOW NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!

Exactly what is Pat Quinn waiting for, and why is MGT still top-secret? We know that Quinn and IDOC do plan to reinstate MGT at some point. IDOC officials admitted publicly months ago that it has a plan underway to work to restore MGT. Supposedly, the plan involves the complete updating of IDOC’s computer system to utilize Microsoft’s new Offender 360 corrections management software. Supposedly, the plan also involves the development of new internal IDOC procedures to facilitate the correct determination of inmate eligibility for MGT and any inmate recidivist tendencies in order to minimize public safety issues from released inmates. It is also reasonable to presume that a lot of staff retraining is required.

These are all reasonable steps showing that IDOC under Quinn has put an immense effort into revamping MGT. This is laudable and will hopefully result in a revised MGT program which will clarify the rights of inmates and procedures as well as reduce the possibility that dangerous individuals will be erroneously released early into communities.

Yet, from the outset, there is no reason, and no excuse for the absence of any timeline for the completion of this process being publicly issued by Governor Quinn. As the one individual who has claimed ultimate responsibility for the suspension of a vital program affecting the lives of thousands of incarcerated individuals and their families, with particularly harsh effects upon those serving shorter sentences for less serious offenses, Quinn has failed to be upfront with those who he has harmed. Quinn could have and should have warned inmates from the outset that he envisioned this process taking at least 1 – 2 years to complete and that MGT would be suspended for at least that duration. This would have saved thousands much of the uncertainty which they have been suffering. Quinn would have faced no political criticism for announcing such a timeline, particularly since winning re-election.

Governor Quinn needs to hear a public outcry from readers concerning our entitlement to some knowledge after all this time about when MGT will be reinstated. After all, what is a date, and how hard can it be for him to issue even a tentative one? It is apparent that work on the plan has progressed well toward the stage of completion. Sure, there is the possibility that the funding to complete transition to the Offender 360 software may not be in place in 2012, but even that problem appears to be working itself out to some resolution in legislative funding. Both IDOC and Quinn have a target date to reinstate MGT, and inmate families deserve to know what this is. We urge readers to click on this link to visit Governor Pat Quinn’s Website and either e-mail him on the page, or write or call him at the address listed. Instruct him that it is time for him to be upfront with the thousands of inmates left hanging by his suspension of MGT. Tell him he has a moral obligation to make a public announcement (even with a tentative date) about when MGT will be reinstated, and that no one constituency should continue to be sacrificed to protect his political ambitions and left to deal with unnecessary hardship and misadvice simply because he remains needlessly afraid of political criticism.