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Author Topic: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?  (Read 10823 times)

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Offline Forevermah

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The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« on: March 10, 2014, 09:29:37 AM »



The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass? -

March 10, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Supporters of the Elderly Bill in Illinois are denying that it's "a get out of jail free" pass for aging long-term prisoners. House Bill 3668 would enable a convict who is 50 years of age or older and who has served at least 25 consecutive years to apply for a sentence modification.

According to Bill Ryan, member of the steering committee of Project I-11, a coalition focused on prison reform in the state, the measure addresses the question, 'What is the purpose of sentencing?'"

"If it is to punish, then 25 years in an Illinois prison certainly is punishment," Ryan said. "If it is to rehabilitate and people can show that they are rehabilitated, why keep them in prison, at a cost of $75,000 a year, to warehouse the elderly in our prisons?"

Besides saving the state money, Ryan said, the measure would also reduce prison overcrowding. Families of victims would be allowed input in the sentencing modification process. He added that national studies find that prisoners over age 50 who have served long sentences have virtually no recidivism rate for violent crimes. The bill was introduced by Representative Art Turner (D-District 9) and has nine co-sponsors.

Ryan said the Elderly bill will help to distinguish long-term offenders who have turned their lives around and become fully rehabilitated, from those who are not rehabilitated.

"Most of us do not know anything about prisons or the prisoners," he asserted. "They need to know that people can change, and people do change."

Ryan said this bill provides for modest and needed sentencing reform, but it's just a first step.

"The United States incarcerates and locks up more people than any country in the world. We lock up more and they stay longer. We need to look at the purpose of sentencing and make it an issue and make some changes," he declared.

Project I-11 takes its name from Article I, Section 11 of the Illinois Constitution, which specifies that the purpose of incarceration is to return prisoners to "useful citizenship."

Information on the bill is at ILGA.gov.
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/38017-1#sthash.ATrEqsze.dpuf
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Offline me

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Aging Illinois Prisoners Could Get Released Early Under Proposal
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 04:01:08 PM »

Aging Illinois prisoners could get released early under proposal


4 hours ago  •  Kurt Erickson Times Bureau


SPRINGFIELD — A controversial proposal to give some Illinois inmates the chance to leave prison early is again moving through the Illinois General Assembly.

But the fate of the elderly prison initiative remains uncertain as opponents say it would chip away at the rights of victims.

Under a plan championed by state Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago, inmates who are over 50 years old and have served more than 25 years would be eligible to be considered for early release.

In order to be successful, the inmates would first be screened by prison administrators and then go before the Prisoner Review Board.

Supporters said the plan would reduce overcrowding in the state's prison system and save money because elderly prisoners cost more money to house.

"This bill is built on the premise that people can and do change," prisoner rights advocate Bill Ryan said.

Ryan said there are an estimated 800 inmates who would qualify for the program, up from about 32 in the late 1980s.

"Obviously, this is a fast-growing population," Ryan said

The measure advanced to the full House Tuesday on a 4-3 vote of the House Restorative Justice Committee, but opponents suggested the legislation was unfair to victims and wouldn't necessarily make a dent in the prison system.

Mary Kay Mace, the mother of a student murdered in a 2008 shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, said the proposal was traumatizing to victims and their families.

"You cannot know the harm you are doing," Mace told members of the committee. "Please don't do this to crime victims."

Matt Jones, of the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's office, said the age of 50 is too arbitrary and could be challenged in court. It also affects the governor's clemency powers.

"It is unconstitutional. It is bad public policy. It is not the direction you should go," Jones said.

"I'm 45. I don't think 50 is elderly," added state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Addison.

Turner said victims and the families of victims would get a chance to weigh in when inmates go before the Prisoner Review Board.

"We are very sensitive to the victims' positions," Turner said.

"This bill ensures victims have a part in the process," Ryan added.

The proposal could affect prisoners such as Chester Weger, known as the "Starved Rock Killer." He is believed to be the longest-serving inmate in the state's prison system.

Weger, 75, was sentenced to life in prison more than 50 yeas ago in connection with the beating death of a woman at the popular Illinois state park where he worked as a dishwasher.

Three women — Lillian Oetting, 50, Mildred Lindquist, 50, and Frances Murphy, 47 — were killed in the incident in an area of the park known as St. Louis Canyon, but Weger stood trial for just the killing of Oetting.

At a 2012 parole hearing at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, Weger said he had numerous medical issues that had left him unable to work in prison jobs. He has been denied parole more than 17 times.

Opponents denounced the idea of allowing murderers to walk free just because they were able to stay alive long enough to qualify for the program.

"Murder is brutal," said state Rep. John Cabello, a former Rockford police detective. "We make these families relive the horror way too often."

"It is time that we start focusing on the victims," the Machesney Park Republican said.

The legislation is House Bill 3668.


http://qctimes.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/aging-illinois-prisoners-could-get-released-early-under-proposal/article_bec5c36c-before87-5a95-bb1e-2fc0f454f26e.html?print=true&cid=print

Offline jaf

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 09:18:20 PM »
I listened to most of this. 

There were valid points made on both sides.  There are so many things to consider. 

I really can't see how super long sentences help anyone.  I'm sure there are some who need to stay in, but they all should be considered individually. 

Offline chantygirl

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 09:45:26 PM »
 :wc22: Jaf.  I couldn't agree with you more.  I may be a bit prejudiced on the topic, let's be honest here, I'm one of the ones cheering to please pass the bill.  But, I do believe people can change.  Some don't change and don't need their freedom back.  But, anyone who has served 25 years in prison deserves a chance to get their freedom back.  Just my opinion.

Offline Forevermah

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2014, 11:31:02 AM »
The bill passed the  Restorative Justice Committee  yesterday, now the hard work starts for the bill to pass the House!!!
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Offline me

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2014, 11:47:24 AM »
Illinois bill would allow early release for some older inmates


Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:52 am | Updated: 8:53 am, Wed Mar 26, 2014.

Associated Press


Legislation working its way through the Illinois House would allow some prison inmates over the age of 50 to be released early.

Supporters say it would reduce overcrowding and save money because older prisoners can cost more to house.

Offline webmari

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 12:33:59 PM »
What are all the countries doing who - thank God - don't have this sentence LWOP unless the person is a real danger to society. All those inmates would be questioned and evaluated whether they have changed and deserve a chance. And of course the victims families play a big role in the USA, but IMO they have a power that is unknown of in other countries who are modern. In my country no victim's families or the like have any say about the sentence or when a person is released. Nor do they even know normally where this person will be living. We are certainly not less safe for instance in Germany, where all of the sentencings are not as cruel as in the USA. I think our prison system would be broke as well and we would have to start housing inmates in dirty places with no space to even move in and that is just not happening over here. I wished they would pass this bill and stop being so hysterical about what all could happen to the victim's feelings. This lengthy prison terms are just not normal. Sorry to have to say that. Anyone in my country whom I tell what is going on in US prisons are shocked and say they can't imagine that in a rich country like the USA. Well, who would imagine that the money is rather spent on weapons and spying on people than on people who got into trouble. Even inmates are people and have certain needs and they are neglected in more than one way. If you can't afford so many inmates, go and look for ways to release some. It's really hard to understand this way of thinking. Also concerning all of this solitary confinement etc. I don't want to offend anyone, but a country that is on top when it comes to all kinds of modern improvements, why then are they treating their inmates that bad? Most of them are released one day and does this all help them to become better people? I feel so bad many times when my LO tells me that they are not giving him the medical care he should have. Another pen friend is not getting his cancer treatment the way he should and all of this just makes me so sad. I wished they would go with the times in this as well and I am glad the DP was abolished in IL and same sex marriages can happen and now please at least try this bill out and see how it works and give this people a chance to prove that they can change. Plus it will save a lot of money. I will defenitely pray for that to happen.

Offline Nemdf

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 12:54:19 PM »
http://nationinside.org/campaign/decarcerate-illinois/posts/fast-action-proponent-of-hb3668-by-tuesday-march-25-at-930-a.m/

It may be to late to weigh in at this link, but maybe someone will still collect the info.  I am not in IL, so doubt I could have a voice.

Offline chantygirl

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 03:04:10 PM »
Yep, too late to add a name.  But, it was a nice thought.  However, you can sign any petition urging representatives to pass legislation, regardless of where you live.  Don't ever let your place of residence stop you from signing a petition if you believe in the cause.

Offline jaf

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 03:17:39 PM »
It has passed out of committee and was sent to the full House for a vote.  If it passes there, it will be sent to the Senate.

Here is the link to HB3668 's  web page if you want to keep track of what's happening with it.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3668&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=76976&SessionID=85

Offline Forevermah

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2014, 05:29:56 PM »
We are going to help when the time comes. I am trying to gather the information now for all this and will post it on IPT when I have it.

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Offline Forevermah

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2014, 05:35:39 PM »
This is was Bill Ryan's testimony at the hearing on March 25th:


House Committee Hearing on HB 3668

March 25, 2014

Statement by Bill Ryan, Project I-11

 

I am Bill Ryan, a member of the steering committee of a concerned citizens coalition Project I-11. Our coalition consists of several hundred individuals as well as organizations, including the Illinois League of Women Voters, the John Howard Association, the ACLU and the Safer Foundation. We take our name,I-11, from the section of the Illinois Constitution that states that “all sentences shall be determined with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”

 

This objective of returning offenders to useful citizenship does not govern sentencing in Illinois.

 

HB3668 is one part of a larger movement to create a criminal justice system that is driven by hope, fairness, and rehabilitation rather than fear, arbitrariness, and cynicism. We are especially ready to rethink our process in Illinois, a state that was been in the forefront of a national movement to abolish the death penalty. This bill may not solve all the issues, but it is a small, significant step. It will bring relief to some and hope to many.

 

These questions are at the heart of the matter. Can people change? Does it matter if they do? What is the purpose of long-term sentences? To protect the public? To punish the guilty? Both? When these fundamental goals have been met, does continued imprisonment serve a moral or societal purpose?

 

The United States now incarcerates 1 of every 100 adults in the country, the highest rate in the world. Most of the imprisoned are poor, and they are disproportionately African-American and Latino. Our rate of imprisonment compromises our commitment to the democratic ideas of liberty and equality. Morally as well as legally we are required to consider the history of perpetrators—their experiences of abuse and trauma, the unavailability of jobs and education in high-crime neighborhoods, the easy and tragic availability of drugs and guns. These facts are not excuses; but they are critical conditions.

 

A just and democratic response to crime would also be alert to the history of unequal protection of black Americans in the United States. We fool ourselves if we simply trust that the system is working fairly, that it gets most cases more or less right. The same concern for justice that has made visible wrongful convictions and a host of procedural failures in our capital system now motivates us to reflect on the lives of men and women who are growing old behind bars. The same abolitionist belief that each human being is more than the worse thing he or she has done applies as well to people who have spent most of their adult lives in prison.

 

HB 3668 allows for smart sentencing that will provide security, save money and conform to democratic ideals.

 

Let me explain.

HB 3668 provides that prisoners who are age 50 or more and who have served at least 25 years may apply for parole. Currently there are about 800 men and women that meet these criteria. Twenty years ago there were 32.

 

Because of stress and bad medical care both prior to and while in prison, a person’s medical age is generally 10 older that actual age. Think 60.

 

Those elderly people who meet the basic requirements can prepare a petition. This petition will be screened by a Department of Corrections (DOC) committee. Those who have demonstrated real, consistent reform will be forwarded to the Prison Review Board (PRB) for a thorough review and decision.

 

Families of victims suffer greatly and should be included in any parole process. The victims’ family will be notified within 30 days of a petition being forwarded to PRB. The family will be permitted to submit an impact statement, attend hearings and if desired, obtain an order of protection.

 

The PRB will determine if a person is a threat or rehabilitated. If the board decides parole is appropriate, the members can establish whatever parole requirements are needed, such as community services and/or electronic monitoring.

 

I don’t know how many of the 800 will earn parole. I have gotten to know in a variety of ways many hundreds of people in prison. I know many are not reformed and should not paroled. I also know some who are.

 

RH committed a murder during a botched robbery while high of drugs. He was 19, illiterate and gang involved. After almost 30 years in prison, he is an ordained minister with a college degree. He can go to a halfway house or if none available live with me.

 

DM wrote, “My husband was sexually abusing my daughter. I arranged for a contract killing. I am sorry and remorseful that I took the law in my own hands. I am first time offender. I have options with family to support me.”

 

PT explained: “I am a 67 year old female who has been in prison since 1979. I killed a person during a robbery. I am a first time offender. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about and am sorry for the victim’s family. I have numerous medical issues.”

 

JB wrote, “I am a 52 years old with 29 years in prison. I am first time offender. I was high on drugs, robbed a house and killed a woman. The police had not a clue who did this. I felt guilty and confessed.  I am serving life. I am remorseful and do not feel sorry for myself. I have taken advantage of every program I can.”

 

Each of you has a copy of the prison newspaper Stateveille Speaks that contains information and more examples of reformed prisoners. Also you have copes of bios of men who served over 25 years and now are making positive contributions in society. They are reformed

 

Thanks for listening. I urge passage of HB 3668

 
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline Forevermah

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2014, 05:36:21 PM »
It has passed out of committee and was sent to the full House for a vote.  If it passes there, it will be sent to the Senate.

Here is the link to HB3668 's  web page if you want to keep track of what's happening with it.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3668&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=76976&SessionID=85

My understanding is that it did pass the Senate on the 25th and now it must pass the House, for which they will need phone calls to be made to the legislators and that is where we at IPT can help!
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline jaf

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2014, 09:11:02 PM »
It has passed out of committee and was sent to the full House for a vote.  If it passes there, it will be sent to the Senate.

Here is the link to HB3668 's  web page if you want to keep track of what's happening with it.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3668&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=76976&SessionID=85

My understanding is that it did pass the Senate on the 25th and now it must pass the House, for which they will need phone calls to be made to the legislators and that is where we at IPT can help!

But it's a House bill, so it started in the House. 

Offline Forevermah

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2014, 07:09:52 AM »
It has passed out of committee and was sent to the full House for a vote.  If it passes there, it will be sent to the Senate.

Here is the link to HB3668 's  web page if you want to keep track of what's happening with it.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3668&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=76976&SessionID=85

My understanding is that it did pass the Senate on the 25th and now it must pass the House, for which they will need phone calls to be made to the legislators and that is where we at IPT can help!

But it's a House bill, so it started in the House. 

Sorry, I meant it passed through the House Restorative Justice Committee on the 25th, not the Senate, now it has to go to the full house for their vote, they need 61 votes, before it can move to the Senate.
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline chantygirl

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Re: The Elderly Bill: Is it a "Get out of Jail Free" Pass?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2014, 09:19:42 AM »
I, for one, am confused on the whole process.  So, I'll be relying on IPT to know when to make calls and who to make calls to.  I have a family full of people willing to make calls, and if signatures are necessary, I can collect quite a few.  For some reason, I have a hard time finding information on my own about legislation in Illinois.


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