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A black mark on apparent success

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the AP

After shutting down all early-out programs for three years, a revised, stricter plan was approved by Quinn and lawmakers last spring that overall appears to be less problematic. Records analyzed by the AP show that since March, more than 1,600 inmates have been let go up to six months early, and only 20 have been returned to prison for violating parole — just over 1 percent.

* But one of those early parolees may have committed a murder

The suspect in the recent fatal shooting of a Decatur man was released from an Illinois prison five months early as part of a revamped out-for-good-behavior prisons program, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press.

Joshua A. Jones served 19 months of a four-year sentence for drug-dealing and left the state prison in Vandalia May 3. Jones is now in Macon County Jail charged with murder in the Aug. 17 shooting death of 22-year-old Marvin E. Perry in Decatur — three months before his original release date.

The case is a potential embarrassment for Gov. Pat Quinn and the Department of Corrections under the revamped early-release program, just three years after the governor struggled to win the 2010 election following a scandal involving the early release of more than 1,700 inmates within weeks or even days of arriving at prison. The AP reported at the time that they included hundreds of prisoners convicted of violent crimes or with violent histories.

* Background on Jones from the Decatur paper

Jones has had three felony cases, including two involving firearms, in the past eight years.

He received his four-year sentence on Dec. 10, 2012, after pleading guilty to charges of dealing cocaine and heroin. In that case, he was arrested after police received a report of a man with a handgun near the intersection of Main and Hilton streets on Oct. 3, 2011. When officers arrived, Jones reportedly ran from them while holding a semiautomatic handgun. When he was booked into the jail, a bag was recovered from his rear end containing 18 crack cocaine rocks and 25 heroin rocks.

Felony charges of armed violence were dropped as part of a plea deal. With credit for time served awaiting trial and day-for-day prison credit for good behavior, Jones was released May 3.

In 2009, Jones was charged with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon for carrying a handgun in a vehicle. As part of a plea agreement, he received 18 months conditional discharge, a lighter form of probation, and his charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

* How it went down

Perry was shot to death about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in the 1200 block of North Union Street, as he stood near his girlfriend’s home. There were many people in the vicinity at the time, including some who were involved in a verbal altercation. The victim was apparently briefly engaged in the argument before he was fatally shot in the chest.


  1. - WOW - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    Not good. Doesn’t look like this was a good candidate for early release. Plea deal!!!

  2. - Frank - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:14 pm:

    It’s too early to draw a conclusion, but a 1% re-arrest rate is un heard of…if that holds this is a pretty significant success.

    O’Connor broke the MGT-Push story, so I’m sure he’ll be watching this like a hawk and he’s probably eager to pounce on any problems, but as tragic as any one murder is, there’s nothing to see here so far.

  3. - Keep Calm and Carry On - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:18 pm:

    “as tragic as any one murder is, there’s nothing to see here so far.”

    Not certain the departed’s loved ones would concur with that assessment.

  4. - Dan Bureaucrat - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    Having a 1% recidivism rate for reoffending is remarkable. Our prison system has a general recidivism rate of just under 50%.

    I hope journalists are more responsible in reporting the program this time around. Here’s what they need to grasp: a certain percentage of people will reoffend when they get out.

    This person probably would have reoffended 3 months from now if he hadn’t done it this time. We can’t control for all risk and we can’t know who exactly will commit a crime. What we can do is control for risk as much as possible — and do a better job at rehabilitating people and supporting their reentry.

    Having less people in prison and allowing more rehabilitation will decrease everyone’s risk to reoffend.

  5. - SO IL M - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    As critical of Quinn and the DOC Administration as I am, this is not their fault. The early release program has released 1600, and this is the only one they can find that has committed a violent crime after being released 5 monthes early. The real problem here is in the story however:”Jones has had three felony cases, including two involving firearms, in the past eight years.”; “Felony charges of armed violence were dropped as part of a plea deal”; and “As part of a plea agreement, he received 18 months conditional discharge, a lighter form of probation, and his charge was reduced to a misdemeanor”. Until this State begins treating repeat violent offenders, especially felons in posesion of a firearm as Class-X felons this will continue. The blame in this does not lie with DOC this time. It lies in the States Attorneys Office and in the Courts that give these sentences for violent Felons. And in the Legislarure.

  6. - Southerner - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    It’s a shame for the family and friends of the victim but guess what? More inmates released under the program will do very bad things. It is interesting the AP writer doesn’t say it is embarrassing for the county judge who accepted the plea deal but has no problem insinuating embarrassment on the governor who at least had the guts to restart this program to better manage an out of control prison population.

  7. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 2:56 pm:

    That 1% is in just six months.

  8. - downstate demo - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    Can you see the Willie Horton ads against Quinn?

  9. - Ferris Bueller - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 3:30 pm:

    This is why DOC shouldn’t be releasing drug dealers. Note I said dealers (as opposed to those charged with simple possession). Drug dealers are often surrounded by violence. The vast majority of the early releases are dealers (more of this type of violence to come).

  10. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    Skeeter & Dan,

    That 1% is really “just over 1%” and is at most 6 months, since the earliest anyone would have been released would’ve been March, and some would’ve been released in April/May/June/July.

    But still - it does seem like an impressively low stat to me.

  11. - bettyboop - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:04 pm:

    This is a very sad case but another example of inexperienced IDOC leadership. The Chief Public Safety Officer has never ran a prison. He was an officer for a short time and quickly promoted to Captain and then to northern intelligience commander until he was promoted to Chief of Parole and then shortly his current position as Chief Public Safety Officer. Just another example of the wrong people being put in the wrong positions. Granted 20 out of 1600 is not an alarming number, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. John O’Conner should now start FOIAing the emails sent out by IDOC executive staff to all Wardens pressuring them to release more offenders, regardless of their offense.

  12. - Ferris Bueller - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:09 pm:

    You said it, boop! Recividism numbers are easy to manipulate too (DOC decides whether or not to file a violation to return the offender to prison, if you want to keep the numbers low you don’t file violations).

  13. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:18 pm:

    The allegation that IDOC leadership may be inexperienced is plausible given the weakness of Quinn’s leadership appointees overall.

    There must be some kind of national standard for evaluating risk of re-offense in potential early releases. After all, the US has one of (if not the) highest imprisonment rates in the world. Somebody must be doing research on early release and recidivism. But is IDOC using research findings or simply the personal judgment of individual wardens. I sure hope it’s not the latter. It’s the 21st century after all.

  14. - bettyboop - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:34 pm:

    Before the incompetent Chief Public Safety officer was appointed (Brad Curry), the Assistant Director (Gladyse Taylor)was assigned to be the DOC point person for the new early release program. She was previously a bean counter for DOC, therefore knowing NOTHING about DOC operations. Prior to her appointed career in IDOC (only a few years ago,) she worked for Office of Management and Budget for a short time. Prior to that she had a luxurious career at L’Oreal cosmetics. I am sure this qualifies her for a $130,000/year job as the 2nd in command for the Illinois Department of “Corruption”. O’Conner also needs to focus on the comments Assist. Director Taylor made to the Adult Advisory Board about DOC’s goals to release 30% of the inmate population. Maybe he should take a look at the minutes from the last years meetings. Needless to say, more disaster stories to come and more lives affected.

  15. - SO IL M - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    While I agree that IDOC admin is incompetent and bordering on criminal, the fact of this case and many more each year are that if Jones had been sentenced to a Class-X felony, or referred to Feds for prosecution for the possesion of a weapon by a felon, in 2009, or in 2012, he would not have been elligible for early release in 2013.

  16. - ISP Retired - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 4:56 pm:

    The fact that only 20 were returned means nothing lets find out how many were arrest for any crimes /felonies. IDOC doesn’t revoke parolees.Plain and simple. It won’t look good.

  17. - David0316 - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 5:06 pm:

    People sent to prison for offenses involving guns should never be eligible for early release. Criminals involved in crimes with guns will return to using a gun when they get out. Gun offenders should stay in for max term.

  18. - Dan Bureaucrat - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 5:08 pm:

    Skeeter–Yes, I know it is only 1% for 6 months, but the 50% rate is a 3-year recidivism rate, so it is still excellent.

  19. - Dan Bureaucrat - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 5:10 pm:

    On the contrary, IDOC waited and waited and waited to start this good time program, even when the newspapers, the watchdogs, the union and even the legislators were on their backs about relieving the overcrowding. Overcrowding which, by the way, is not the IDOC’s fault.

  20. - Bobby Dillon - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 5:11 pm:

    Betty, you don’t say what position she held at the cosmetics company. I think that might be more important than the simple fact that she worked there.

  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 5:28 pm:

    Given that 25 percent of traditional inmates reoffend, the rate is remarkable if it holds.

    the cost savings is about $32 million i think, based on IDOC estimates.

  22. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 6:39 pm:

    Hey — I used to work with Gladyse, and she is incredibly smart and savvy. Yeah, she was a “bean counter” — which means she understands the budget and how to run the department efficiently and ethically. It’s not a bad idea to have a high-ranking DOC official who is focused on the bottom line.

  23. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 7:02 pm:

    Dan, unless you know how others do, it is meaningless. How do you know that the six month rate is not always 1%? Perhaps people get out, go straight for a while, and then turn bad.

    We don’t know.

    All we know is that a guy Quinn let out early killed a guy.

    One more reason not to vote for Quinn (as if any more were needed).

  24. - bettyboop - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 7:12 pm:

    So, Soccermom, you think running a cosmetic company qua;ifies you to determine what criminals to let out early?

  25. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 8:09 pm:

    Any time you release prisoners, early, on time, or late, some of them will commit new crimes and some of them will commit murder. Guaranteed. There is no incarceration program I am aware of that has 0% recidivism.

    To pluck such a tragic outcome and use it to indict a system is cynical but inevitable especially when most of the voting population spends so little time paying attention to their government.

  26. - Bottom Line - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 8:49 pm:

    The main issue I see here is that this guy was a gun packing drug dealer who plead to a lesser case. Pleas need to be looked at when determining early release.
    This has to be embarrassing for the governor politically and his opponents are going to use it. If nothing else deny the guy early release to avoid the “possible” embarrassment.

  27. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 9:57 pm:

    Is Gladyse deciding who walks? Or is she making sure our tax dollars are well spent?

  28. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 27, 13 @ 10:27 pm:

    A lot of DOC employees are retiring as soon as they can to try to get away from Quinn and his budget cuts. Understaffing puts all the DOC employees in greater danger. Early release then puts everyone in the state in danger. Lots of the most experienced retiring=lots of new, inexperienced people replacing them.

  29. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Aug 28, 13 @ 7:55 am:

    Of course top officials should not be making day to day decisions on who walks. But they should enforce whatever decision protocols do exist, after making sure they are consistent with current research and national standards. Is IDOC accredited? Are they following national standards? If not,why not? If this was a “bad apple” decision, the staff member who did make it and his or her supervisor, who presumably approved it, should be disciplined or fired. I agree, not necessarily Ms. Taylor or her boss.

  30. - Tired - Wednesday, Aug 28, 13 @ 8:00 am:

    1% is only because they dont take any on back you can do whatever and not get revoked unless you kill someone

  31. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Aug 28, 13 @ 9:07 am:

    Perhaps weapons charges shouldn’t be plea bargained away.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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