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Ill. Suspends Program That Released Inmates Early

The AP via YellowBrix

January 07, 2010

Quinn spokesman Bob Reed declined to discuss what Randle and chief of staff Jerome Stermer will review, other than “issues raised in The Associated Press story.”

The practice is called “MGT Push,” for “meritorious good time,” according to a memo obtained by the AP.

It’s separate from a plan Quinn announced in September to release 1,000 prisoners up to a year early to save money amid a budget crisis.

Illinois Policing

MGT Push” has included more than 100 people convicted of potentially violent crimes, including aggravated and domestic battery, battering and assaulting police officers, aggravated robbery and reckless firearms discharge, the AP’s analysis shows. That’s not counting the prisoners serving time for nonviolent offenses who committed more serious crimes in the past, including murder.

Quinn signed tougher gun-crime legislation on Dec. 3. The day before, Corrections released 20 inmates early, including a man convicted of domestic battery who was confined for 19 days and a man who had spent a total of 20 days locked up for carrying a concealed weapon, records show.

Smith called it “more efficient” to release the inmates after a few weeks instead of paying to send them to another prison just for a couple of months. Inmates must complete short classes before departing.

Prosecutors understand the budget crisis but oppose early release.

A spokeswoman for Anita Alvarez, state’s attorney for Cook County, which accounts for three-quarters of the inmates who are part of the analysis, said it “could threaten public safety or increase crime.”

“When an individual who was supposedly sent to prison shows up less than a month later, what are the people in the community saying, what is the victim thinking?” asked Winnebago County’s top prosecutor, Joseph Bruscato.

The AP obtained information on approximately 850 already released or scheduled to be by Sunday.

Their average state prison stay was 16 days. Combined with time the inmates spent in county jail prior to that, they averaged 106 days behind bars — 47 percent of the sentence the court decreed they should serve.


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