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Author Topic: State House Passes Bill Rewarding Inmates Who Pursue Education Behind Bars  (Read 39716 times)

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Offline Forevermah

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State House Passes Bill Rewarding Inmates Who Pursue Education Behind Bars With Shorter Sentences

by Carimah Townes Posted on April 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm



Police-officers-turned-legislators sponsored two bills that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Illinois’ House of Representatives last week, which would reward inmates who continue their education behind bars with shorter sentences and sealed criminal records.

Last February, Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) sponsored HB 3149, which would seal criminal records for non-violent felony offenders seeking employment, if they receive a “high school diploma, associate’s degree, career certificate, vocational technical certification, or bachelor’s degree, or passed the high school level Test of General Educational Development” while completing their sentence. The same applies for individuals who earn a certificate during aftercare or supervised release.

A separate bill introduced two days later by Rep. John Anthony (R-Plainfield), HB 3884, says, “90 days of sentence credit shall be awarded to any prisoner who passes high school equivalency testing while the prisoner is committed to the Department of Corrections.” In other words, inmates will have 90 days deducted from their sentences. The credit can be tacked on to any credit that was previously earned by someone under DOC supervision.

On Thursday, the two bills received bipartisan support, garnering 80 percent of House votes.

Cabello, a detective for Rockford Police Department, responded, “With this legislation I hope to encourage participation in progressive educational programs so that people serving sentences for non-violent crimes may take their chance at becoming productive members of society upon their release.”

Anthony similarly comes from a law enforcement background, having served as a municipal police officer and county sheriff’s deputy. Prior to becoming a state legislator, he worked as a case manager for adult offenders with the Safer Foundation, which assists formerly incarcerated people with the job application process. And days before the House voted on HB 3884, he was appointed to the the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC). “By incentivizing inmates to earn their GED, we can help them transition back into the community after completing their sentence and dramatically increase their likelihood of success in finding employment,” he said.

According to a RAND Corporation study, a person who pursues academic or vocational education while serving time is 13 percent more likely to find employment. Correctional education also leads to a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating.

For people behind bars in Illinois, the new legislation could mean the difference between successful re-entry and future recidivism, as criminal records typically hinder employment opportunities. The vast majority of U.S. employers — 87 percent — conduct background checks during the hiring process, and any involvement in the criminal justice system reduces the likelihood of being hired. By extension, people who are unable to find work have a difficult time securing housing, food, and other necessary items — and subsequently break the law to make ends meet. Today, 70 million people have arrests or convictions on their records.

Sealing criminal records from potential employers can give former inmates a chance at gainful employment. Outside of Illinois, efforts to “ban the box,” or remove questions about applicants’ criminal backgrounds, are gaining traction. Without having to answer the dreaded conviction question, which also shows up on housing applications and insurance forms, people re-entering society will have one less obstacle to climb. Earlier this month, Virginia joined the ranks of D.C., Nebraska, and Georgia, which implemented their own variations of ban the box laws.


http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/20/3648781/state-house-passes-bill-rewarding-inmates-pursue-education-behind-bars-shorter-sentences/
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Offline trauma4us

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Wow - I wonder if this would actually be for ALL prisoners?  Even those who are serving an 85% sentence on a Class X violent offense? 

That would certainly give my son and many others some degree of hope because as of now, these prisoners can get no sentence credit as they are exempt from the SSC.

Offline trauma4us

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Well, nope after reading it, it won't be applying to my son!

Offline Forevermah

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They need to change the way they look at Class X convictions too, if someone is out for a certain amount of years and gets into no further trouble, let Class X convictions be removed from the records too, giving those individuals chances. They've paid their dues, but continue to be punished for life, just not right.
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



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Offline GoodGirl

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According to this, the second bill (HB 3884) does not state the degree of offense, so class X would be included in the 90 day sentence credit.  Only the first bill says non violent offenders can have their records sealed as well.
Unless I am missing something.

Offline me

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According to this, the second bill (HB 3884) does not state the degree of offense, so class X would be included in the 90 day sentence credit.  Only the first bill says non violent offenders can have their records sealed as well.
Unless I am missing something.

That is the way I am understanding it as well with the 90 day credit.


Offline trauma4us

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I interpreted HB 3884 as an amendment not as a new bill correct?

So, if you then look above and click on that link this is part of that law:


"(iii) that a prisoner serving a sentence for home
           
invasion, armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated discharge of a firearm, or armed violence with a category I weapon or category II weapon, when the court has made and entered a finding, pursuant to subsection (c-1) of Section 5-4-1 of this Code, that the conduct leading to conviction for the enumerated offense resulted in great bodily harm to a victim, shall receive no more than 4.5 days of sentence credit for each month of his or her sentence of imprisonment;"

Am I reading this wrong?

Offline GoodGirl

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It is an amendment, but the amendment says "ANY"

Amends the Unified Code of Corrections. Provides that 90 (rather than 60) days of sentence credit shall be awarded to any prisoner who passes high school equivalency testing while the prisoner is committed to the Department of Corrections. Provides that the Department of Corrections may also award 90 (rather than 60) days of sentence credit to any committed person who passed high school equivalency testing while he or she was held in pre-trial detention prior to the current commitment to the Department of Corrections.

Offline New person1

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What kind of test is this my nephew has his high school diploma is this what this is?

Offline trauma4us

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Okay - I just don't want to get my hopes up as my son is in for a long time and I don't even talk to him about getting any extra time off - he figures his out date is set in stone.

The whole mess just makes me so very sad.

Offline trauma4us

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No, I read it as any education to include associates, bachelors degree - along the lines of that.

My son also has his GED and some college credit so he would need to get some more credit.


Offline hopeful.wife

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I feel like this is a stupid question, but is parole supervised release?  If so, it sounds like they can attend school while on parole and still get the benefit of sealed criminal records.  "The same applies for individuals who earn a certificate during aftercare or supervised release." 

Offline lvanrs2

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I wonder is this will apply to those who have already earned some school credit on a previous incarceration.
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Offline jaf

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Both HB 3149  and HB 3884 are on the list for in the Criminal Law Committee Hearing this morning at 9 am.
 
If you want to listen in, you can go to this link and then click on where it will say something like, "listen to room 400 Capitol"   

http://ilga.gov/senate/audvid.asp

Offline jaf

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They are just now getting started and our bills are both on the list the chairman read to be heard today!

Offline trauma4us

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What happened?  Just now getting home

Offline Forevermah

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HB3139 was  .....   5/6/2015   Senate   Placed on Calendar Order of 2nd Reading May 7, 2015


HB3884 
 5/6/2015   Senate   Do Pass Criminal Law; 010-000-000
  5/6/2015   Senate   Placed on Calendar Order of 2nd Reading May 7, 2015
  5/6/2015   Senate   Added as Alternate Chief Co-Sponsor Sen. Patricia Van Pelt
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



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Offline jaf

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The Internet was down around here for the rest of the day.  So frustrating!  You just don't realize how many times a day you want to look something up!

Yeah, these Bills are flying through the process.  No opponents. 

Offline cem31

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They need to change the way they look at Class X convictions too, if someone is out for a certain amount of years and gets into no further trouble, let Class X convictions be removed from the records too, giving those individuals chances. They've paid their dues, but continue to be punished for life, just not right.

I totally agree with you but Class X'rs also need some form of consideration and means of earning credit while they are still serving their sentence, especially those who stay out of trouble, and namely those who are not there of their own wrongdoing i.e.those convicted on accountability. Our justice system needs a complete overhaul or else recidivism will continue to grow. If you don't give them something to look forward to then they have no motivation to stay out of trouble, while inside or out.

Offline tkesde1

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The way I read it was that it was only credit for earning a GED. My thought is that if we all interpret this differently, how will it be interpreted by IDOC? Pessimist - yes. Realist - Yes. But hopeful! :wc25:
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Offline kasa

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My son is doing the GED classes, and has signed his contract.... Will the 90 also apply to him?

Offline smme7

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KASA-I would say the 90 days would apply to him. Tell him to talk to his counselor.
Am I understanding this right, this would apply to ANY inmate, regardless of how many times they have been incarcerated and even if they have used a contract before?
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Offline Gizgirl2

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Yes anyone that received their GED while incarcerated either now in IDOC or in county awaiting to go to IDOC.

Offline trauma4us

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But only GED?

Offline smme7

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And it wouldn't matter what bid they are on? First, second or third?
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Offline Gizgirl2

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But only GED?


Yes on HB3884 the 90 day credit is only for GED.


And it wouldn't matter what bid they are on? First, second or third?

Also the way I read it I would say it don't matter how many times you have been incarcerated.

Offline smme7

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 :wc38:
That would be wonderful! So my other question is this...if it passes and goes through let's say....at the end of the month...when will it become effective??


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Offline Gizgirl2

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It just depends some are effective immediately, some not until either July 1 for the new fiscal year or Jan 1 for the new year.

Offline smme7

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I'm going to pray for immediately or fiscal year!!!
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Offline Gizgirl2

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I just looked at the bill it does not say effective immediately... Sorry!

Offline jaf

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Has anybody heard if the voted on these today? 

I had it on to listen and heard them begin, heard part of the opening prayer, left the room for a minute and all there was then was silence.  They must have gone into executive committee meeting or something.  I tuned in a couple of times later, , but only silence.

Offline sonshine

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What station are you guys listening g to? I never knew anything about being able to listen in

Offline Gizgirl2

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You go to the Illinois general assembly page and select live audio. It will let you watch or listen to it.

Offline kasa

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Thank you !!!!

Offline smme7

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It looks to me that this could very easily be passed....but it also kinda looks like it's just sitting there. Can't the governor sign it to make it effective immediately? 
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Offline sonshine

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I have a ? My son just got into school and a couple days later got put in seg...Will that hurt his chances of getting back in school? His schooling is mandatory...please help me....

Offline sonshine

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How long does it take for them to complete their ged in here?

Offline jaf

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Good news! 

HB 3884 passed both in the House and the Senate.

HB 3149 is on the Senate calendar for 3rd reading. . . . maybe today!

Offline jaf

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HB3149  passed through the Senate yesterday.

Now we wait for it to be signed into law by the governor!

Offline washwin5

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Hi, What is that bill for?

Offline me

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Hi, What is that bill for?

Please see beginning of the thread. 

Offline smme7

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Is this at a stand still...since they need summer breaks?
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Offline me

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They go on break after May 31st.  So we will see what happens tomorrow and Monday. 

Offline jaf

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They go on break after May 31st.  So we will see what happens tomorrow and Monday. 

Summer break won't stop these now - they've passed both houses and are just waiting for the Governor to sign them. 

Offline Lu

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Will this bill help Class X offenders in any way?   Will it include college level courses (if you can get them!)?

Offline smme7

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Does the governor take a summer break? This is great news if he's bothering to sign anything right now!
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Offline me

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They go on break after May 31st.  So we will see what happens tomorrow and Monday. 

Summer break won't stop these now - they've passed both houses and are just waiting for the Governor to sign them. 

Correct - however we still have to wait for the Gov. to decide when he will sign them........

Offline jaf

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They go on break after May 31st.  So we will see what happens tomorrow and Monday. 

Summer break won't stop these now - they've passed both houses and are just waiting for the Governor to sign them. 

Correct - however we still have to wait for the Gov. to decide when he will sign them........

 :wc71-1:  of course!  I was just
 
 meaning that the governor does not go on summer break, so they won't be stalled because of that.

He can choose when or if he's going to sign them.

Offline GoodGirl

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The Gov has 60 days to decide if he will sign or veto (which I don't see happening).  The legislature must send the bill to the Governor within 30 days after it has passed both chambers.  If he doesn't do anything within 60 days, it automatically becomes a public act. I am hoping he just signs off on them once they come across his desk.
 :wc1:

Offline sonshine

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 ME TOO!!!## :wc64:  :wc73: drink to that...and I don't even drink....but I might start..lol after all of this...

Offline sonshine

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I have a question..and it's probably not in the right spot so if not I'm really sorry mah...the time line on getting g in school....they take the ones with less time first right???? Is it when they have a year or less left???????

Offline trauma4us

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School attendance is by your "outdate" that is correct.

I know there are several colleges in the US that do have prison-approved correspondence college level courses.  However, not sure if these would count towards the early release or not.

Offline Sunshine18

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I'm sorry I'm a little confused on this bill, I've read everything that is posted but am getting mixed up on my interpretation more less!  This bill is for inmates to take GED classes no matter what their conviction is meaning violent, non-violent etc...and receive credit for these classes??  Am I understanding this correctly or is it only for non-violent offenders?
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Offline Gizgirl2

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HB3884 is for any conviction, if they get their GED.

Offline robin in ohio

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When does this take affect? My husband has done put in school time so will this time cut be added to him and if so when?

Offline Gizgirl2

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The Governor hasn't signed it yet. He has until August 18 to sign or veto. Not sure when it would take affect, immediately or January 1.

Offline robin in ohio

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 :wc38:

Offline Lu

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To Trauma4us:   Do you have any college correspondence courses that are accepted in Illinois?   I would love to know what they are.  My son is interested in doing something with the time he has.  He has a high school diploma and some college.   

Offline eks1975

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Lu: I know there are guys who take classes through Ohio University: https://www.ohio.edu/ecampus/print/correctional/

Danville has college classes from the U of I, but they don't offer a bachelor's degree yet.

Offline jaf

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Check out the Americal School of Correspondence in Lancing, Illinoius.  It is an Accredited High School, and you'll find it on the Illinois State Board of Education's list of approved High Schools.   

One of very few actual correspondence schools anywhere around, because most have gone to online classes. 

They also offer College courses. 

My son is very near finishing his High School through there.

Offline Lu

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Eks1975:   Thanks for this information.   We will look into the information here and see what happens!

Offline Memalogan89

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Hopefully this will apply to my fiancée. He just received his degree two months ago and he has been on his best behavior.



Offline Memalogan89

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After reading this again, I'm still wondering does Class X felonies with 85% of time still qualifies? What if the inmate's sentence is 16 months left, has been on good behavior and did complete schooling? I'm just trying to clarify this bill.



Offline Gizgirl2

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Yes, it says to ANY offender who completes their GED either in IDOC or county before they went to IDOC.

Offline Memalogan89

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Thanks GizGirl2. My fiancée just graduates with his associates two months ago and I was telling him about the bill he was just asking does he qualify also.



Offline Gizgirl2

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HB3884 is only for GED not college.

Offline Memalogan89

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Oh ok  :wc5: that's not fair....



Offline Gizgirl2

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Rauner signed HB3884 into law today, it takes effect January 1,2016.

Offline eks1975

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If you look at the amended section, it appears that this does NOT apply to all prisoners:

"The sentence credit awarded under this paragraph (4.1) shall be in addition to, and shall not affect, the award of sentence credit under any other paragraph of this Section, but shall also be pursuant to the guidelines and restrictions set forth in paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of this Section."

So, the categories of offenses that are restricted remain the same.

You can read the whole thing here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=099-0241

Offline Forevermah

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This amendment to HB3884, would allow any inmate to earn 90 days of sentence credit IF he/she completes their GED while inside, even if they did it during pretrial, not for any other classes/programs taken in IDOC custody..  GED ONLY!!



        (4.1) The rules and regulations shall also provide that
6          an additional 90 60 days of sentence credit shall be
7          awarded to any prisoner who passes high school equivalency
8          testing while the prisoner is committed to the Department
9          of Corrections. The sentence credit awarded under this
10          paragraph (4.1) shall be in addition to, and shall not
11          affect, the award of sentence credit under any other
12          paragraph of this Section, but shall also be pursuant to
13          the guidelines and restrictions set forth in paragraph (4)
14          of subsection (a) of this Section. The sentence credit
15          provided for in this paragraph shall be available only to
16          those prisoners who have not previously earned a high
17          school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate.
18          If, after an award of the high school equivalency testing
19          sentence credit has been made, the Department determines
20          that the prisoner was not eligible, then the award shall be
21          revoked. The Department may also award 90 60 days of
22          sentence credit to any committed person who passed high
23          school equivalency testing while he or she was held in
24          pre-trial detention prior to the current commitment to the
25          Department of Corrections.


http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=88&GA=99&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=3884&GAID=13&LegID=90095&SpecSess=&Session=
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Offline smme7

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When does this take effect?
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Offline Gizgirl2

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January1,2016. It's posted a few post up!

Offline jaf

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When does this take effect?

If you click on the link in Forevermah's post and look clear down the bottom, it says:

Effective Date: 1/1/2016

Offline smme7

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Oh, lol I seen it this time!
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Offline robin in ohio

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Every little bit helps..90 days closer to coming home! :wc38:

Offline Memalogan89

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New laws in effect for 2016 including HB3149 was passed does this including sentencing credit?



Offline Forevermah

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New laws in effect for 2016 including HB3149 was passed does this including sentencing credit?

HB3149

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Criminal Identification Act. Allows a person who earned a high school diploma, associate's degree, career certificate, vocational technical certification, or bachelor's degree, or passed the high school level Test of General Educational Development, during the period of his or her sentence, aftercare release, or mandatory supervised release, to petition for sealing before expiration of applicable waiting periods under the sealing law. The person cannot have completed the same educational goal previously. If the person's petition for sealing is denied, then the applicable waiting period under the sealing law shall apply to any subsequent petition for sealing by the person.
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Offline Memalogan89

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Thanks Mah. I was concerned because my fiancée finished his associates over the summer was wondering does this applies towards him with any type of good time credit to be released sooner?



Offline Memalogan89

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Mah, what does the sealing mean?



Offline Forevermah

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Mah, what does the sealing mean?

That no one can see his record, especially when applying for work.  I wish they would do this for everyone after they have served their time.  It's hard when they have payed their dues and they still can't get work and better themselves with it hanging over their heads.
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Offline Lu

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Would sealing be available for someone with a Class X sentence?

Offline Forevermah

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Would sealing be available for someone with a Class X sentence?

No it's not, that is what is wrong with this. 
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Offline Memalogan89

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Ok, thanks this is not so cool.



Offline Kay

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Mah, what does the sealing mean?

That no one can see his record, especially when applying for work.  I wish they would do this for everyone after they have served their time.  It's hard when they have payed their dues and they still can't get work and better themselves with it hanging over their heads.
Agreed!

Offline robin in ohio

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Will class M be eligible for this 90 days also?

Offline Forevermah

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Will class M be eligible for this 90 days also?
Did he already take the GED while in prison before this bill was passed, not sure if it's retro, they have to ask their counselors.




There are two topics going on in this topic too, one for the 90 days for getting GED while incarcerated and one for those that want to seal their records.

Any Class X or Class M cannot get their records sealed, even if they pass the GED while inside.
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Offline robin in ohio

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Will class M be eligible for this 90 days also?
Did he already take the GED while in prison before this bill was passed, not sure if it's retro, they have to ask their counselors.




There are two topics going on in this topic too, one for the 90 days for getting GED while incarcerated and one for those that want to seal their records.
Yes he has gotten his GED plus he got his Associates Degree. I'm not sure if he would be eligible for the seal records but he is a first time offender.
Any Class X or Class M cannot get their records sealed, even if they pass the GED while inside.

Offline robin in ohio

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Sorry I'm not sure if I did my last post right. Yes he has gotten his GED and Associates Degree since being in.

Offline Forevermah

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THIS NEEDS TO BE DONE:


1) Sealing reform - Many ex-offenders in Illinois are barred from entering their chosen professions - or simply from securing well-paying jobs - after serving their time. Without hope for a brighter future, it's not hard to see why half of ex-offenders end up back behind bars within three years. Record sealing gives reformed ex-offenders a chance at re-entering the workforce in a meaningful way. One of the main barriers to good work that ex-offenders face is the scarlet letter a criminal record leaves on a job application, even after an ex-offender has served his or her time. In 2013, Illinois passed a law allowing ex-offenders to petition to have their records sealed, meaning only law enforcement and certain types of employers, such as schools, can see an ex-offender's criminal record. But a person is only eligible for sealing after waiting three to four years from the end of his or her sentence, and not all ex-offenders are eligible. Illinois can break the cycle of crime and truly give ex-offenders a second chance by broadening sealing and eliminating wait times altogether.

Read the whole article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-gowins/my-2016-wish-list-3-ways_b_8913262.html
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Offline deehi

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I am wondering why no one has mentioned the sentence credit for working that is included in this bill?


Public Act 099-0241
 



HB3884 Enrolled LRB099 04141 RLC 24161 b
 

 
    AN ACT concerning criminal law.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, 
represented in the General Assembly: 
 
    Section 5. The Unified Code of Corrections is amended by 
changing Section 3-6-3 as follows:
   
    (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3)  (from Ch. 38, par. 1003-6-3)   
    Sec. 3-6-3. Rules and Regulations for Sentence Credit.   
        (a) (1) The Department of Corrections shall prescribe 
    rules and regulations for awarding and revoking sentence 
    credit for persons committed to the Department which shall 
    be subject to review by the Prisoner Review Board. 
        (1.5) As otherwise provided by law, sentence credit may 
    be awarded for the following: 
            (A) successful completion of programming while in 
        custody of the Department or while in custody prior to 
        sentencing; 
            (B) compliance with the rules and regulations of 
        the Department; or 
            (C) service to the institution, service to a 
        community, or service to the State. 

Offline Forevermah

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Deehi, I don't understand what you are actually saying??? this bill amended the following, the rest is the same as it always was:


HB 3884, says, “90 days of sentence credit shall be awarded to any prisoner who passes high school equivalency testing while the prisoner is committed to the Department of Corrections.” In other words, inmates will have 90 days deducted from their sentences. The credit can be tacked on to any credit that was previously earned by someone under DOC supervision.
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Offline cem31

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This amendment to HB3884, would allow any inmate to earn 90 days of sentence credit IF he/she completes their GED while inside, even if they did it during pretrial, not for any other classes/programs taken in IDOC custody..  GED ONLY!!



        (4.1) The rules and regulations shall also provide that
6          an additional 90 60 days of sentence credit shall be
7          awarded to any prisoner who passes high school equivalency
8          testing while the prisoner is committed to the Department
9          of Corrections. The sentence credit awarded under this
10          paragraph (4.1) shall be in addition to, and shall not
11          affect, the award of sentence credit under any other
12          paragraph of this Section, but shall also be pursuant to
13          the guidelines and restrictions set forth in paragraph (4)
14          of subsection (a) of this Section. The sentence credit
15          provided for in this paragraph shall be available only to
16          those prisoners who have not previously earned a high
17          school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate.
18          If, after an award of the high school equivalency testing
19          sentence credit has been made, the Department determines
20          that the prisoner was not eligible, then the award shall be
21          revoked. The Department may also award 90 60 days of
22          sentence credit to any committed person who passed high
23          school equivalency testing while he or she was held in
24          pre-trial detention prior to the current commitment to the
25          Department of Corrections.


http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=88&GA=99&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=3884&GAID=13&LegID=90095&SpecSess=&Session=

My husband asked his counselor about this and was told that it did not appy to him, he has a Class X. As further confirmation the counselor called (what he said was) someone in Springfield who is part of the department who implements this and they confirmed that my husband would not be eligible because of his Class X. I don't kno who exaclty to reach out to but I'm looking for the TRUE answer, and also to find out if he obtains his diploma/GED thru an outside source (correspondence) would he still qualify for the credit.