Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is trying to temper growing concerns over his plans to release low-level inmates so he can lay off 1,000 prison workers, saying he wants to “carefully examine” the idea but has made no final decisions, reports the Chicago Tribune. Prison union leaders say as many as 11,000 of the 45,500 inmates could be eligible for release. Officials are focusing on inmates charged primarily with drug crimes who are in the last year of their sentences.
State law allows for a much broader range of prisoners to be released, including those who were convicted of various property crimes. Prisoners 55 or older who have served at least a quarter of their sentence are eligible to be placed on electric home monitoring for the last year of their sentence as long as they were not convicted of a sex crime. “We’re not only downsizing employees, we’re downsizing inmates,” said Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp.