Illinois laws passed to reduce prison overcrowding, improve public safety

June 25, 2012
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In an effort to improve public safety and criminal justice in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn signed June 22 multiple bills into law.

The new laws will address prison overcrowding, make changes to information contained in inmate records, affect sex offenders and enable background checks for Chicago Park District employees.

One measure, Senate Bill 2621, effective immediately, rewards inmates for good conduct, including the successful completion of educational and rehabilitation programs.

“Ensuring public safety is my top priority,” Quinn said in a press release. “This is good criminal justice policy and good public safety policy that will manage our prison population and make non-violent offenders less likely to commit crime in the future.”

The program’s chief sponsor, state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th), issued  the  following  statement  about the bill, which he said creates a new system of “sentence credits,” with more comprehensive safeguards than previous early release plans:

“Overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons is reaching a crisis point. Appropriate prison population  management is  not only critical to safety inside prisons; it is critical to public safety at large. We need to begin to use risk  assessment tools and well‐calculated criminal justice  policy to make certain we utilize our corrections resources wisely.

“This overhaul of the sentence credit  system, which met with broad and bipartisan support in the legislature,  allows the Department of Corrections to take into account factors, such as past offenses and an assessment of the likelihood of successful rehabilitation, to make smart and safe choices about the early release of inmates.”

Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th) also sponsored the bill.

According to the governor’s press release, four other bills were also signed into law:

Senate Bill 3579, which will go into effective Jan. 1, prohibits sex offenders from participating in holiday celebrations where minors are present (for example handing out candy on Halloween).

Senate Bill 3809, effective immediately, enables park districts to have criminal background checks performed to determine whether a job applicant is a delinquent minor and has committed certain offenses, such as sexual assault.

Senate Bill 3258, which takes effects Jan. 1, clarifies violations included in the Sex Offender Registry and prevents arrest records for reckless driving from being sealed before the offender reaches the age of 25.

House Bill 4590, effective immediately, adds new information, such as known gang affiliations, to inmate record files housed at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Click here to read the entire press release issued by the governor’s office.

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