Early-release programs in Illinois, another perspective

The controversy that MGT-Push engendered was based on incorrect facts and misunderstandings of how the criminal justice system operates, including who decides what a sentence to prison will be, and what it will mean in terms of actual time behind prison bars…

You may not like short sentences for people who hurt other people or almost no time in custody for people a judge has just said is going to prison for a year. But this legislature wrote day-for-day and meritorious good time into law, and for a reason: Illinois didn’t have the space to put its prisoners otherwise, and still does not, operating one of the most overcrowded systems in the nation. It doesn’t now have the money, either…

Despite news reports and widespread claims that MGT-Push “endangered the public,” the Erickson Committee fails to report on a singe case in which an inmate released under MGT-Push was a) released contrary to law; and b) caused harm or injury to another person during days in which the prisoner was in the community due to MGT-Push.

Read full article here: Change of Subject: Early-release programs in Illinois, another perspective.

Vagueness better path for Brady

Although Brady has been stalwart about painting in these broad strokes, he has mentioned one area of state government where he thinks dollars could be saved.

“Look at the million dollars they spend at the Corrections Department on cable TV,” Brady told reporters during a news conference at the Illinois State Fair.

What he’s referring to is the cost of providing cable television to inmates in the state’s 29 prisons.

Sounds like a promising idea, right? Why should murderers and rapists get to watch cable TV when the rest of us are hurting in this down economy?

Unfortunately, it’s questionable whether cutting off the TV spigot would save any money.

The bill for cable TV is not paid for by taxpayers. It is bankrolled by the prisoners themselves.

At each prison, money from the sales at the commissary are used to pay for cable. Every bag of chips, pack of gum and tin of sardines purchased by the criminals goes toward their ability to watch reruns of “Seinfeld” and “Law and Order.”

Not only does the Illinois Department of Corrections claim there is no cost to taxpayers, but officials believe it helps educate the inmates and keep them from misbehaving.

“This is a key tool for prison staff as well because disciplinary action can be the removal of an inmate’s ability to watch TV,” added Corrections spokeswoman Sharyn Elman.

Read the full article here:  Vagueness better path for Brady.

Illinois pension funds warn of possible asset sales – chicagotribune.com

Illinois employee pension funds are sending up flares warning they may have to sell off as much as 10 percent of their investment portfolios unless lawmakers find a way for the financially hobbled state to make its pension contributions this fiscal year.

The step would be equivalent to farmers selling their seed corn, pension executives say, because the five major pension funds rely on investment returns, together with contributions from the state and employees, to make annual benefit payments to retirees.

Read More: Illinois pension funds warn of possible asset sales – chicagotribune.com.

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

The Lessons Of MGT Push | Progress Illinois

“If Gov. Pat Quinn loses the governor’s race in November, pundits will definitely point to the problems underpinning his administration’s MGT Push early release program as one major cause.

If you’re just getting caught up on the controversy, here’s a little background. For decades, governors and prison directors in Illinois have utilized a program known as “Meritorious Good Time MGT,” which allows prison officials to award up to 180 days of good conduct credit to inmates “for meritorious service in specific instances as the Director deems proper.” That means that incarcerated individuals who behave well while behind bars can have his or her sentence shortened. Before 2009, the Illinois Department of Corrections DOC followed an unwritten policy requiring that inmates must serve at least 61 days before any credits could be awarded. Those 61 days did not typically include time spent at a local jail while the prisoner was awaiting trial and sentencing.”

Read more: The Lessons Of MGT Push | Progress Illinois.

Ezra Klein – Are private prisons worth the cost?

The Washington Post recently ran an article which is in my opinion a MUST READ for EVERYONE that works in a prison. The following quote is just a portion of the article. Click on the link to read the full article.

According to the National Institute of Justice, private prisons tend to make much lower estimates of their overhead costs to the state for oversight, inmate health care and staff background checks.

Officials at public prisons often argue that the state winds up paying a higher cost for those services than is advertised, mitigating savings that private prisons are built to deliver. …

To maintain profit margins, [Arizona State University professor] Pratt said, companies often cut back on staff training, wages and inmate services. “Cost savings like that don’t come without consequences,” Pratt said. “And that can present a security risk that’s elevated.”

Read the full article here: Ezra Klein – Are private prisons worth the cost?.

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Call Dan for more information

Report: ‘Serious Flaws’ In Prison-Release Program – cbs2chicago.com

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) ― Gov. Pat Quinn’s Department of Corrections failed to consider possible dangers to the public when it quietly granted early release to prisoners in an effort to save money, a review of the program concludes in a report issued Friday.

Prisoners, even violent offenders, were released whether or not they had demonstrated good behavior, the review found. Local law enforcement was given insufficient notice before inmates were sent home. And former prisoners got little help getting back on their feet.

“The Department exhibited institutional myopia: while pursuing cost-saving measures, it neglected the most important consideration the potential impact on public safety,” said the report, written by a former appellate judge and two Quinn aides.

Read More: Report: ‘Serious Flaws’ In Prison-Release Program – cbs2chicago.com.

Panel seeks changes before resuming early release, IL – WQAD

UNDATED (AP) — A panel reviewing early release policies at the Illinois Department of Corrections recommends significant changes before the department resumes offering inmates time off for good behavior.

Legislators have already approved one recommendation — requiring inmates to serve at least 60 days before being eligible for good-conduct credit.

Other recommendations include:

— passing legislation to limit the offenses eligible for good-conduct credit.

— letting the department revoke past good-conduct credit as an incentive for inmates to continue following the rules.

— standardizing policies on when to grant credit and centralizing the decisions under one high-level administrator.

— improving automatic notification of local authorities when an inmate is released.

— expanding rehabilitation programs.

— letting people object before the release of any particular inmate.

— replacing outdated computer systems.

via Panel seeks changes before resuming early release, IL – WQAD.

Illinois early prison release program called ‘totally dysfunctional’

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Corrections’ early release of about 1,700 prisoners, some violent, sparked public outcry last fall. But the former judge tasked by Gov. Pat Quinn with fixing the problem downplayed the administrative failings as “benign neglect” when he unveiled his report Friday.David Erickson, who served as a criminal and appellate judge for more than a decade, began investigating the Meritorious Good Time Push program, used to accelerate the release of prisoners more than several months ago. The picture was not a pretty one.

Read More:  Illinois early prison release program called ‘totally dysfunctional’ | program, quinn, department – Local News – The Telegraph.