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Turner Introduces Legislation to Create Sentence Modification Program



Phone: 773-277-4700

March 2, 2015

Turner Introduces Legislation to Create Sentence Modification Program

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago, recently introduced legislation to establish a procedure to review and modify sentences for the terminally ill and prisoners over the age of 55.

“Illinois’ prisons are overcrowded, putting pressure on the state’s budget and on communities impacted by a high incarceration rate,” Turner said. “Currently, there is no policy in place to help decrease prison populations. This measure would provide a responsible to review and modify prison sentences.”

House Bill 1310 calls for the creation of a sentence modification program, similar to the federal compassionate release program. Under the measure offenders at least 55 years old, who have served at least 25 consecutive years in a Department of Corrections facility, would be able to petition the Prisoner Review Board to participate in the program. Before the request goes before the full board, the department would be required to first conduct a full evaluation including risk, psychological and psychiatric assessments, as well as a full review of the petitioner’s full criminal history.

Once an offender’s petition is received by the Prisoner Review Board, the board would be responsible for notifying victims and their family of the proposed repeal, providing them with the opportunity to submit statements in support or opposition, and alerting them of any public hearings on the petition. The board would then be required to consider a variety of other factors before making a decision, including a prisoner’s professed remorse, behavior during incarceration, participation in rehabilitation programs, and commitment to leaving criminal activity in their past.

The board would also have the authority to establish other conditions for release, such as electronic monitoring and required community service hours. Only 100 individuals would be eligible for release through the sentence modification program each year.

Additionally, the proposal establishes Medical Parole for inmates who are terminally ill and expected to live less than 9 months. Inmates who qualify would be paroled to a hospital, hospice or other housing accommodation. This would apply to any terminal individual in a DOC facility even if they have not served their minimum term of their sentence.

“Every year, lawmakers increase penalties on criminals, but we do nothing to address our growing prison population or recognize the individuals who have grown and matured while being incarcerated,” Turner added. “This is an important step forward to reducing the number people in our prisons and giving them a second chance.”

For more information, please contact Rep. Turner’s full-time constituent service office at 773-277-4700.