Illinois prison officials have announced a revamped sentence-reduction plan, again offering early release to inmates who behave behind bars, more than three years after corner-cutting on a previous program freed hundreds of violent prisoners and almost cost Gov. Pat Quinn an election, the Associated Press reports. The impact of the newly minted “supplemental sentence credit program” on the state’s bloated prison population is uncertain because of its stringent criteria. It will likely mean the release of far fewer prisoners than under the previous plan Quinn suspended in 2009.
Quinn said the new plan should ease congestion in the state’s prisons, which currently house 49,000 inmates in space designed for only 33,000. John Maki of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog, said the plan isn’t a solution to crowding in the system, where officials are setting up temporary housing units. The new process allows the state to grant inmates up to six months off their sentences based on the severity of their crimes, their criminal histories, their disciplinary records in prison, and efforts they make toward rehabilitation, such as by enrolling in courses or performing well in prison jobs. Since the earlier plan was suspended, the state prison population has risen by about 4,000.