With its recently created Sentencing Committee, Illinois moves closer and closer to criminal justice reform.
Truth In Sentencing Act creates statutes that require imposing sentences that are consistent with the term of years handed down by the judge. This was enacted to stop early release, as prior to the statute, most sentences for first-degree murder were only being 50% completed or less. This led to lengthier sentences for nearly all offenders.
HB 3010 creates a new sentencing option—“Second Chance Probation”—which allows certain first-time nonviolent felony defendants to be sentenced to probation with no judgment entered upon pleading or being found guilty. The charges are dismissed after successful completion of probation, leaving the offender with no felony record. Eligible defendants are those charged with Class 3 or 4 offenses involving drugs, theft, and destruction of property. The probationary period must be at least two years.
SB 3267 allows courts to grant earned compliance credits to nonviolent offenders on probation who achieve certain educational goals: a GED grants 90 days credit, an associate’s degree or education certificate grants 120 days’ credit, and a bachelor’s degree grants 180 days’ credit.
SB 3522 appropriates funds for psychiatric treatment and education programs in the community to aid in reentry.
HB 5701 prohibits inquiry into a job applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been deemed otherwise qualified and has either been contacted for an interview or given an initial offer of employment. This prohibition is waived when state or federal law requires such an inquiry, or when a license or insurance required for employment would be denied based on the applicant’s criminal history.
HB 1 narrows the circumstances when a prosecutor must agree to a defendant’s participation in a drug court program. Previous law required prosecutors to consent under all circumstances. Now, defendants may be admitted upon agreement by the defendant and the court, without the prosecution’s consent. The law also requires mandatory education seminars on substance abuse and addiction for drug court prosecutors and defenders.
HB 3884 increases the amount of sentence credits, from 60 to 90 days, earned for completion of a GED in custody (either in pretrial detention or during a sentence).
Governor Bruce Rauner creates a criminal justice reform panel to research effective reform policies and solutions for future bills in order to fix the criminal justice system. Over 13 solutions have been recommended to Governor Rauner as the legislature moves toward signing them into law. The latest passed measure ensures that released prison inmates have a state I.D. upon release from custody.
Illinois Dept. of Corrections expenses/budget:
- State cost of prison = $1.7 billion
- Cost per inmate = $38,268
State Population: 12.88 million people
- As of 2014, about 48,000 were incarcerated in state prisons and 21,000 in local jails.
- Over 227,000 people are part of the state’s criminal justice system, either in prison or under supervision (parole/probation).
You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.
May 31, 2017
Originally published 5/21/17 at CBS News Chicago — with the largest number of murders last year of any major city in the country — has one of the largest jails in the country. An average of 70,000 men and women pass thru Cook County Jail each year, many more than once and, as with other… Read more »
February 14, 2017
Originally seen in The State Journal-Register. The Illinois House has approved a package of criminal-justice reforms to aid crime victims and reduce prison populations. The plan won House approval 83-26 on Monday and moves to the Senate. It includes additional counseling and other services for crime victims paid with federal funds. It would allow prisoners… Read more »
February 14, 2017
Originally seen in ABC7 Eyewitness News. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earned rare praise from Democratic lawmakers Thursday for his effort to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Rauner – the super-wealthy, fiscally conservative North Shore Republican – is Illinois’ new criminal justice reform champion. Even Democrats called a truce in the bitter state budget war… Read more »
February 14, 2017
Originally seen in Illinois News Network. New legislation taking effect January 1 will reform how criminal records are expunged in Illinois, as well as allow released inmates to work in more professions in spite of their records. State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, said House Bill 5017 will give juveniles convicted of low-level crimes a… Read more »