Illinois prisons will introduce a more restrictive early-release program to replace one that was halted three years ago amid public outcry over inmates serving small fractions of their sentences, the Associated Press reports. Gov. Pat Quinn shut down the former program after AP reported that 1,745 inmates, some convicted of violent crimes, had been released within weeks or even days of their arrival at the penitentiary.
One of those men was convicted for brutally attacking a woman in 2008. After getting six months shaved off his sentence under the program and spending a year in jail, he spent just 14 days in prison, and was arrested the next day on suspicion of assault. The end of the program caused the prison population to swell by more than 4,000 inmates, and there are now more than 49,000 people in prisons designed to hold 33,000. The new program is aimed at easing the problem, the way early-out programs were previously used for decades to manage the population. Unlike in the old program, inmates must serve at least 60 days of their sentence before being released. The new law also allows the prison director to decide early release eligibility on a range of factors, including a past record of violence, something the department had said court rulings previously prohibited.