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Author Topic: New Beginnings for Corrections  (Read 1550 times)

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Offline Forevermah

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    • Illinois Prison Talk
New Beginnings for Corrections
« on: February 25, 2015, 08:40:43 AM »

New Beginning for Corrections

Governor Rauner deserves credit for making prison reform a  priority.  Representative Art Turner (D-9) earns support for starting reform with New Beginning legislation mass incarceration  not a partisan issue. It is a human crisis.

We are reaping the harvest of tough on crime policies, overcrowded prisons, inadequate medical care, overwhelmed mental health services, strained budgets, and continued violence on the streets.

In Illinois there are over  49,000 people in prison and another 25,000 on parole. About 60% of people released come back within three years. This a failing system.

The Illinois DoC estimates it costs approximately $23,000 a year to warehouse a person.. Research by Vera and Pew Institutes put this number at $38,000 when all costs are included.such as medical and plant maintenance. It costs about $75.000 to house elderly person.

Taxpayers pay over one billion in annual operating costs for our prisons. plus at least another billion for medical cost in a ten year period.

In the past twenty-five years the Illinois prison population doubled. Where will we be if it doubles again next twenty five years.?

Many states, including several red ones,  are reducing prison populations. Examples are New York, Georgia, Kansas. Kentucky and Texas.

Most people in prison are not there for violent offenses.

About 49% of people incarcerated in Illinois are African-American and 13% Latino. In other words, 62% of imprisoned are people of color.

Ten percent are women. Women are being imprisoned at higher rate than men...and for lesser offenses.

I recommend the following as the start of a  New Beginning in corrections

1.Enact HB 1310  Provides for special elder project and compassionate release (Turner sponsor)

2. Eliminate "bundling" of misdemeanors to make a felony and person goes to prison. (Legislation needed)   
3.Refer  technical parole violators to community agencies not prison (DOC can do this)

4.Review offenders sentenced under truth in sentencing. When merited reduce sentence by up to 25  per cent.( Turner preparing legislation)

5.Remove barriers such as housing,employment for those reentering society (Legislation needed)

6. Provide training in diversity and peaceful conflict resolution for staff and offenders  (DOC)

7. Implement adult redeploy fully statewide, increase funding for community based service agencies.(Governor, legislature)

1. HB1310 allows prisoners age 55 or more and who have served 25 consecutive years to apply for special project. Provides for compassionate release for those diagnosed with terminal disease and nine months to live.

A maximum of 100 people will be selected by DOC and forward to  Prison Review Board. for parole plans. The selection process will include risk, history, psychological psychiatric assessments as well as detailed history.

Victims families will be included in process.  Restorative justice services can be considered

Project will submit monthly and annual reports to legislature.

Currently there are about 800 people who meet project criteria (Twenty years ago there were 32)

If 100 are included in project will reduce costs by 7.5 millions annually.

During the past 20 years I have come to know many elderly men and women in prison. I consider many of them good friends. Many have reformed themselves and present no threat to  anybody. There are many others who should not be released. I am convinced each of us is worth more than the worse thing we have ever done.

I wish i could list  each offender  I know who is reformed. A couple examples will have to suffice.

*When he was 19 RH committed a horrible murder while high on drug on drugs during botched robbery. He had been left by parents, could not read or rite and was gang involved. After nearly 30 years in prison, he is an ordained minister with college degree. If part of project can go to halfway house  or to live with me.

*PT explained,"I am a 67 year old female who has been in prison since 1979. I killed person during a robbery. Not a day goes by dont think about victims family and how sorry I am. I have lots of medical problems.

*DM My husband was sexually abusing my daughter. I arranged for contract killing. I am so sorry to take law in my hands. i am first time offender,

 in the news these people are made into monsters. i can assure you they are not.

We must not respond to cruel acts with more cruelty. An eye for an eye as. Martin Luther King understood  makes the whole world blind.

2,3 A prison should be used sparingly as part of comprehensive effort too prevent crime and redress harm. As many conservatives have said we need to imprison those we are afraid of not those we don't like A little bit of prison time tends to  springboard for many years inside..

In our state, two common scenarios result in nonviolent offenders going to prison. The first occurs when the state "bundles"misdemeanors. In an interview.. Kathy Saltmarsh, head of State  Prison Advisory Committee explained the state can't imprison person a misdemeanor but can bundle misdemeanors which can lead to a person with no violent record going to prison, in  the same article, WBEX chronicled a person who  cost state $50.000 who had stolen $111.

Surely we can do better.

People can go to prison for technical violation when on parole...like missing appointments. A parolee should be monitored. Technical violators should be referred to community agencies in lieu of prison whenever possible. Programs that provide quality guidance do a better job of moving people into education and jobs than a prison sentence,DOC may need to revise procedures and conduct training for parole agents.

4. Truth in sentencing is one of driving forces of overcrowding  in prisons. We should allow judicial discretion in sentencing. In the meantime  the DOC should review offenders sentenced under truth in sentencing. This review should include same elements as for elder project. This review depending upon conclusion of review could result in up to 25 percent reduction in sentence..

5. People leaving prisons face formidable obstacles in making a successful  reentry. There are recent reports some 5,000 people remain in prison because of such obstacles...mostly relating to restrictions upon sex offenders. Those on parole face many obstacles in relation to employment and education. These need to be addressed.

6. We need to invest in prison training and reentry programs. An investment now will reap major benefits in the future. Redloy is successful in keeping non viiolent first offeenders in their homes. Program should expanded.

 There are many successful reentry programs, including religious ones but all of them struggle with limited funding and overwhelming demand..

Some people say we cant afford to change. We cant continue to do what we are doing. We must invest in the practices that reduce prison population, If we dont change some Federal judge will make us change.

Thanks to Governor Rauner for his rhetoric and Representative Turner for starting a New Direction

Bill Ryan

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.”

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