Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to slice $125 million from the Department of Corrections' budget may mean fewer inmates in state prisons, reports the Springfield State Journal-Register. The department is drawing up lists of low-level offenders with less than a year on their sentences who could be released and put on parole. More than 500 employees will be laid off from five prisons effective Sept. 30. More layoffs that will result in 500 more employees losing their jobs will be announced in the future.
The Taxpayer Action Board, a panel appointed by Quinn to comb the state budget for savings, recommended last month that the state start freeing inmates. The state could save as much as $65 million this year and as much as $400 million annually in future years by keeping criminals out of prison, the panel concluded. That's nearly one-third of current corrections spending, which now accounts for 6 percent of the state budget. Cuts to prison populations – and budgets – are happening in many other states, including New York, Michigan, and Colorado. The Kentucky legislature this spring approved a plan to treat drug offenders instead of jail them, and the state last year began releasing inmates imprisoned on parole violations earlier than in the past. By allowing 2,800 parole violators to count time spent on parole prior to revocation as time served, Kentucky saved $15.4 million in its last fiscal year, said Jennifer Brislin of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.