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Another Quinn punt results in lawsuit

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* From a press release…

More than two years after missing a statutory deadline to implement a comprehensive risk assessment of state prisoners, a lawsuit has been filed seeking a court order directing Illinois prison officials to assess and consider paroling the longest serving prisoners.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks to force the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB) and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to abide by the Illinois Crime Reduction Act, which took effect in 2010 and gave those state agencies three years to prepare for and begin using a standardized risk assessment tool no later than January 2013.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of all still-incarcerated prisoners sentenced for crimes committed before 1978 when Illinois switched from a system of indeterminate sentences to sentences with a fixed length of time. More than 170 men are serving indeterminate sentences and appear periodically before the IPRB to request parole.

* Consequences

Harrison Chancy, the lead plaintiff in the case, is serving an indeterminate sentence for a 1977 murder, armed robbery, armed violence and burglary in Lemont. Chancy, who maintains he is innocent, was 19 at the time of the crimes. He has been incarcerated for 37 years.

Chancy has used his time in prison productively, taking courses to prepare for success after release, and he has a positive behavior record and gone several years without receiving a single disciplinary ticket. Chancy’s IDOC work supervisor, who is a former Navy SEAL and a prison shift commander, wrote a letter of support to IPRB – the first time in his 25-year IDOC career that he had written in support of an inmate’s parole.

Without benefit of a risk assessment, the IPRB voted to deny Chancy’s parole applications for parole in 2013 and 2014. At the latest hearing, without pointing to any specific rationale and in a departure from the previous year’s hearing, the IPRB ordered that Chancy not be considered again for parole until 2017.

The lawsuit is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 2:36 pm:

    What was needed to be done was to imprison the Governor and his staff until the work was done. By doing this, the people in charge of implementing these risk assessments would better appreciate the lives of those their work impacts.

  2. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    Indeterminant sentence, no means of assessment for parole. Straight out of Kafka.

    Here’s to those who go to bat on issues like these. The legal rights of old men in prison arent at the top of the high society do-gooder list.

  3. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    ==- VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 2:36 pm:==

    In the same Governor Rauner should live a decade on a minimum wage cut with no starting money from his vast fortune. It only seems fair.

    Anyway, it’s not an uncommon thing nationwide for parole boards to deny, deny, deny without rhyme or reasons as to why. Even without a law mandating a risk assessment, you would think some type of RA would be used for at least some of these parole hearings. Not doing so comes off as skirting a best practice.

  4. - anon - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:12 pm:

    Had these inmates been sentenced under the determinate rules, most would have been released long ago. What makes them so much more dangerous than their counterparts, convicted after 1978, who committed the same type of crimes, but are walking free?

  5. - A Citizen - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:15 pm:

    Parole and Pardon Board Members have been prime patronage payoffs for many decades - going to the higher level donators etc. They take their payments quite seriously - not so much the job or those up for review for parole. Really is shameful and inhumane.

  6. - Generation X - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:21 pm:

    Most criminals who commit murder in the course of a home invasion are not out walking around. Rarely if ever do they serve 40 years or less. Mr. Chancy should receive a risk assessment but most certainly hasn’t been unfairly imprisoned. He is very fortunate not to be serving life without parole

  7. - Name Withheld - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    I think it’s pretty darn impressive that Chancy’s IDOC work supervisor wrote the letter of support. For a man who has problem seen everything in those 25 years, it says a lot for Chancy’s rehabilitation that he was willing to write that letter. Maybe Chancy is lucky to be alive, but it also sounds like he’s earned his parole several times over.

  8. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 3:54 pm:

    From the People v. Chancy- “A jury found defendant guilty of all charges and the court sentenced him to concurrent terms of 100 to 300 years for murder, 25 to 50 years for armed robbery, and 5 to 15 years for burglary.”

    It is an unambiguous case. He murdered a man in cold blood during a home invasion. Based on the filing his time is well earned and should continue to serve, not withstanding the error by Quinn.

  9. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 4:00 pm:

    I will give Quinn the benefit of the doubt on the PRB mess. He had a massive backlog from the Blago years and his staff did the best they could.

    Consequently - will every inmate whose request was passed over or denied sue if there is precedence set in this case?

  10. - Cowboy Dan - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    Another indication his government career is over.

  11. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    JS Mill:

    If he had committed the crime in 1977 instead of 1978, he would have been paroled years ago.

    That is as unjust as keeping someone in prison for an offense that has since been declared not a crime.

  12. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 5:22 pm:

    This is unacceptable. What a sick system.

  13. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 5:54 pm:

    which staffers were responsible? is it any of the gang of 3 or 4 who were fired?

  14. - Generation X - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 6:12 pm:


    This individual committed his crime in 1977. He has an indeterminate sentence, hence the “C” before his inmate number. He is lucky to have a chance at Parole. If he had committed this crime under current laws he would get Life.

    Your post couldn’t be more uninformed. Equating this with a law no longer on the books? Shooting someone in the head after invading the privacy of their home has consequences. It is frightening to me that some think that Chancy is a victim of a unfair system.

  15. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 7:02 pm:

    These inmates were all given the choice to convert to determinate sentences in 1978. They gambled that they would be released sooner remaining indeterminate, and they lost.

  16. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 8:50 pm:

    @ Juvenal- He MIGHT have been paroled years ago. There is no certain way of knowing.

    Last time I checked, murder, robbery, and burglary are still crimes. Murder was also a capital offense at one time.

    I find it hard to feel sorry for a murderer. I do fell for the victim and his family.

  17. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 10:11 pm:

    Sorry I got the dates reversed, JS Mill.

    Truth in Sentencing was not enacted until 1998, so unless someone was sentenced to life without parole, which Chancy was not, I suspect you won’t find too many convicts from 37 years ago still behind bars for their crime.

    It has nothing to do with sympathy, it is about justice. If you want to sentence someone to life without parole, fine. But to sentence someone to life with hope of parole only to constantly dangle that hope just out of reach is torturous.

    See Tantalus.

  18. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 11:06 pm:

    In the same Governor Rauner should live a decade on a minimum wage cut with no starting money from his vast fortune. It only seems fair.

    You must mean today because he already did that on his way to earning his wealth.

  19. - Generation X - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 12:02 am:

    Gary Rardon, Michael Drabing, Mark Allen Smith

    Richard Speck before his death

    Do some research on these individuals before you shed a tear for their latter years spent in confinement.

  20. - Anon - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 10:29 am:

    -Vanilla Man-
    You must mean today because he already did that on his way to earning his wealth.

    I don’t think Gov Rauner ever lived off of minimum wage. His mother was a Nurse and his father a Lawyer, he went to Dartmouth and Harvard and straight out of College became chairman of GTCR…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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