Posts Tagged ‘return of good time’

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.



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.


May 31, 2012, State Legislature passes new law paving way for Early Release programs! Read latest at


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. 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

May 31, 2012, State Legislature passes new law paving way for Early Release programs! Read latest at

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.


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.