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Author Topic: Reversal: Illinois Prison Population Dropping  (Read 1815 times)

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Offline me

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Reversal: Illinois Prison Population Dropping
« on: July 27, 2015, 01:31:27 PM »

Reversal: Illinois prison population dropping

July 26, 2015 6:30 am

SPRINGFIELD Acting on an order from Gov. Bruce Rauner, a special committee is studying how to reduce Illinois' prison population by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

But, because of policies already enacted, the state's once-skyrocketing inmate population is already on its way down.

According to the most recent report on crowding within the state's jam-packed correctional system, the population of men and women behind bars has dropped to a level not seen in five years.

According to the report, there were 47,483 inmates in custody in May 2015. That is the lowest number of inmates since May 2010, when the department reported 47,150 behind bars.

The 3.7 percent decrease from the January 2013 peak of 49,321 inmates is being cheered at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

"We are pleased to see the IDOC inmate population trending downward. A reduced prison population not only saves taxpayer dollars but it also promotes a safer prison environment and builds opportunity for stronger communities," said Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson.

The May 2010 numbers represent the beginning of a rapid rise in the number of prisoners flooding the system after former Gov. Pat Quinn canceled a controversial early prisoner release program.

Under the program, thousands of inmates with past convictions for drunken driving and weapons violations were released after spending mere weeks behind bars. The man who oversaw it, former Illinois Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle, resigned.

Following Randle's departure, it took Quinn more than two years to launch a new program that awarded inmates for good behavior.

That program may be having its intended effect of moving inmates out of the system if they are non-violent and have exhibited good behavior behind bars.

The agency said in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, Quinn's revamped program resulted in 2,844 inmates being released early because of the time they earned for good behavior. Through May 2015, the program has resulted in the release of 2,114 inmates.

But, the reduction in the number of inmates being released last year isn't just because of the revamped early release program.

Rather, according to Wilson, it may be because the number of prisoners being sent to IDOC facilities is shrinking.

Since 2009, the number of inmates flowing into the system has taken a sharp drop.

In 2009, for example, the department processed 27,400 inmates into the prison system. In the most recent fiscal year, statistics show that number has fallen to 19,600.

Inmates are sent to the state prison system by county-level judges.

A review of statistics compiled by IDOC shows that in all but 21 of Illinois 102 counties most of them smaller, more rural jurisdictions the number of inmates heading to state correctional facilities has dropped.

In 2009, for example, Cook County sent 13,406 inmates into the system. In the most recent fiscal year, that number dropped to 10,268.

Similar decreases took place through the state, with McLean County's numbers dropping from 462 inmates in 2009 to 274 in the most recent fiscal year.

One factor could be the rise of alternative resolutions for people who've been arrested, such as drug courts.

Since 2009, all 23 of Illinois' judicial circuits have been required to have drug courts, which divert offenders away from prison and into treatment programs.

To be eligible, a defendant must be substance-dependent and charged with a nonviolent felony, such as drug possession, residential burglary or retail theft.

Many counties have had drug courts before they were required.

In McLean County, officials marked the ninth year of operation in April, saying an estimated 170 defendants have been helped by the program.

Champaign County Judge Jeffrey Ford is president of the Illinois Association of Problem-Solving Courts. He said drug courts save money by keeping people out of prison.

"You're talking $18,000 to $19,000 per year in savings," Ford said.

Of the 270 people who have graduated from the Champaign County drug court since 2000, "almost all of them were on their way to the penitentiary," Ford said.

Despite the overall decrease in population, the prison system remains overcrowded. Of the 47,000-plus now behind bars, they are living in facilities that were originally designed to house 32,000 prisoners.

In February, Rauner formed a special commission to investigate ways to reduce the prison population by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

In a recently released preliminary report, the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform said there needs to be a balance between sending too many to prison and making sure the public is safe.

Already the commission has determined that improving parole services and educational programs within prison are two ways to reduce the prison population.

The commission will hold a public hearing on Monday in Chicago seeking comment from advocates, policy specialists and people with criminal records.


Offline robin in ohio

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Re: Reversal: Illinois Prison Population Dropping
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2015, 02:46:00 AM »
Has anyone gotten any info about the meeting that they just had on Dec. 1st? The committee was to bring their plan to the Governor.