As Illinois prepares to release 1,000 inmates from prison up to a year before the normal end of their terms, parole agents are making unannounced visits to select homes, checking for overcrowding, drug paraphernalia, and vicious dogs that could hamper future inspections. After determining there is adequate space for an inmate, the agents stress to residents that their homes are in for a drastic change. “I make sure they understand their house is now an extension of prison,” said agent Matt Lukow.
Gov. Pat Quinn hopes to save millions of dollars and usher in other alternatives to incarceration. The cost-cutting early releases are opposed by police, prosecutors, and some crime victims. Offenders will be monitored by electronic ankle bracelets in the homes of friends or family members. Shedding jumpsuits for jeans, they can leave home for jobs, drug counseling, or other productive activities. Parole agents, not prison guards, will monitor their behavior. It is among a variety of controversial changes in corrections sweeping the U.S., as states work to plug the massive financial drain of prisons.