WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Early Release Program Signed Into Law

Jun 22, 2012

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn waited until late Friday afternoon to sign Senate Bill 2621, which is intended to relieve massive overcrowding in  the state's prisons.

The measure allows the Department  of Corrections to create a new early release program for certain  non-violent offenders.

The watchdog group John  Howard Association said Illinois' prisons are 14,000 people above capacity. In May, the association's  John Maki said the problem is worst at  medium and minimum security  prisons, such as Vienna in southern Illinois.

"We found inmates huddled in a kind-of barn-like setting, with broken windows, mice, cockroaches, bird's nest above, with nothing to do," Maki said.

"These were low, low-level offenders. People on things for like driving on a revoked license."

Quinn  suspended prior early-release programs in 2009 amid reports some  inmates -- even violent offenders -- were spending hardly any  time in prison.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio