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Early Release: 48 of 56 Freed Inmates Back in Jail

Early Release: 48 of 56 Freed Inmates Back in Jail

The AP via YellowBrix

January 11, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — When Gov. Pat Quinn halted a secret early prison release program last week, he acknowledged that 56 of the freed inmates were already back behind bars — 48 of them for violating rules of their parole.

What he didn’t say was that those broken rules included at least 17 allegations of violent crimes, including attempted murder, armed robbery and domestic battery, according to Associated Press interviews and reviews of both public and internal Corrections Department documents.

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One offender who’s back after he was released under the program known as “MGT Push” allegedly shot his victim in the leg. Victims of nine others who earned return trips to the penitentiary contend they were battered.

Seven parolees are back in lockup for crimes involving guns or other weapons.

Two who returned after arrests on domestic battery allegations could have been picked up by the Corrections Department earlier, following busts for less serious crimes, but were not.

The cases represent new problems for Quinn, who already is facing intense criticism over MGT Push — so-named because it refers to giving prisoners “meritorious good time” credit.

The program, and how much Quinn knew about it before The Associated Press revealed its existence in December, have become major issues in the governor’s race. The primary union for prison guards and parole officers this week issued the latest call for a legislative investigation.

MGT Push involved secretly changing a Corrections policy that required inmates to stay a minimum of 61 days. Inmates also were given as much as six months’ time off for good conduct as soon as they arrived, before they had a chance to display any conduct, good or bad.

That made inmates – some of them violent — eligible for release in as little as three weeks, including county jail time. Quinn has stressed that even without MGT Push, discretionary awards of good-conduct credit would have qualified them for release in another month or two.

When he reinstated the minimum-stay policy and announced other reforms on Dec. 30, Quinn said eight MGT Push parolees were back in prison serving sentences for new crimes including domestic battery, aggravated drunken driving, theft and drug charges. A ninth was returned for a new drug sentence the next day.

The remainder of the 56 he labeled “technical violations” held over parolees’ heads for not following the rules.

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