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Can Rauner’s 25 percent prisoner reduction goal be met?

Thursday, Feb 23, 2017

* From the Kearney Courier

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s goal to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent can be achieved, but only if extensive changes are made to the criminal justice system, according to two members of a state commission that issued recommendations on prison reform.

Retired 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Elizabeth Robb and Andrew Leipold, law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, were panelists Wednesday for a forum sponsored by the McLean County League of Women Voters and the Central Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Both served as members of Rauner’s commission to develop proposals to cut the state’s prison numbers by 25 percent by 2025. […]

Robb cited current drug laws with enhanced penalties as one of the areas recommended for change by the commission. The add-ons for selling drugs near schools and parks disproportionately affect African Americans in urban areas and “are not effective and not a deterrent,” said Robb.

Commission members also reviewed the reasons people are sent to prison and explored alternatives to incarceration, including a law that has added 700 people to the inmate population for stealing vehicles.

“We can make a cut in the prison population by changing that law,” said Robb.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - Truthteller - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    He hasn’t produced a balanced budget or fulfilled any other of his stated goals. His record doesn’t bode well for success here


  2. - New Guy - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    Just fire 25% of the IDOC staff and release 25% of the prisoners.


  3. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    I believe this goal can be met if we freed all the imprisoned public officials we’ve locked up.


  4. - Texas Red - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Of course it can; 25% less inmates means less IDOC guards and lieutenants to pay, and less AFSCME folks to deal with


  5. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    They should be more specific. Always speak of low level drug dealers and users who do not belong in prison. Yes some laws maybe over kill but I doubt many first time offenders end up in prison. Multiple arrests multiple positive drug tests end you there. What is the law that put 700 more people in jail for stealing cars. Did this include fleeing and eluding? What are the criminal history of the 700? Unless it is very serious lots of these people have lots of chances to avoid prison. Most are doing life on the installment plan


  6. - Telly - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    IDOC can unilaterally lower the prison population through their management of the parole system. They can parole more inmates and choose to not “violate” and reincarcerate parolees who get in trouble for minor infractions after being released. The numbers can be relatively significant, but it’s a short-term fix and 25 percent is probably not achievable.


  7. - IRLJ - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    A dramatic cut in the prison population will take a culture change in the direction of prosecution and sentencing that is driven less by the news cycle and more by the sound exercise of discretion when figuring out from whom society needs protection.


  8. - zatoichi - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    So on one hand, keep the community safe so get those criminals off the street. Do the crime, to the time. On the other hand prisons are too crowded and cost too much so let 25% go free back to the street. Ah.. pick a lane.


  9. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    The Governor can use his powers to pardon here. Assign a team to review the 700 people jailed for auto theft. Keep the dangerous ones in and let the others out.

    He can use that approach on other laws that he wishes to change. This would be real leadership.

    If more people are put on parole, make sure the parole officers are in place in advance. Otherwise you have no defense when a parolee does harm, and some will do harm.


  10. - IRLJ - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    Achieving a dramatic drop in prison population will require a change in prosecutorial culture aimed at thoughtful protection of society from those who truly are dangerous, rather than protection based on the day’s headlines and sloganeering by politicians.
    Drug-selling near a church or school is a law that rightfully was aimed at those who might plan such a crime. Instead, it’s been used to enhance the sentences of those to whom the nearness of a church or school was totally incidental, and unintended.


  11. - Cassandra - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    Release more elderly prisoners, assuming they have someplace to go. I believe the risk of re-offense goes down drastically as prisoners enter their 50’s, and I also believe this population is growing rapidly along with the general increase in the elderly population. Prisons really cannot and should not be long-term nursing homes.


  12. - LibrarianRyan - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    What about the people in prison for weed use. While I don’t condone the use of any drugs, with other state legalizing weed, if the only drug office is for weed, let them out. Let them move to Colorado.


  13. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    DuPage Saint is on it. keep the people in prison who need to be there. decide who needs to be in prison. if laws need to be changed, change them. But criminal history plays a role in deciding if someone should be put in prison. that cannot be forgotten. there are not people inside for a first marijuana offense. there just aren’t. look at Minnesota which used a matrix that adjusted sentence to prison capacity. that had very bad long term effects on the community.


  14. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    Change 1,000 feet enhancement to 500 feet, make possession w/intent of less than a gram a class 3 and within 500 feet a class 2 upgrade (down from the current class 2 and class 1) which would mean that there would be less Class X by background sentences based on a class 2 drug case.


  15. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Feb 23, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    “there are not people inside for a first marijuana offense. there just aren’t.”

    That anyone is inside for a marijuana offense is morally perverse.

    – MrJM


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