Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Time to take a look at Illinois inmates

This Chicago criminal lawyer has posted here and here about sentencing. Now with all of the scrutiny on Illinois prisons it's time to look at inmates in state prisons.Here's the mission statement of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC):

The Mission of the Department of Corrections is to protect the public from criminal offenders through a system of incarceration and supervision which securely segregates offenders from society, assures offenders of their constitutional rights and maintains programs to enhance the success of offenders' reentry to society.
In a nutshell, that means once they've "paid their debt" to society, former inmates need to become fully-integrated members of society with all of the privileges and responsibilities afforded to those of us on the outside.

A few facts about the Illinois prison population from the IDOC 2008 Annual Report:

  • Nearly 69% of the inmate population is incarcerated for a "drug-involved crime"
  • More people are incarcerated for Possession of a Controlled Substance, 9,778 than homicide 9,139
  • More people are incarcerated for theft of a motor vehicle or another vehicle code violation 1,552 combined, than DUI 190
  • Illinois has more inmates than the country of Romania. Illinois had 45,000 inmates in 2008. Romania had 32,000 inmates.
  • There are 77 people under the age of 18 who are inmates.
  • There are over 32,000 people on parole.
These numbers do not take into account inmates in local jails or those in federal prisons/detention centers throughout the state of Illinois. That's a pretty hefty bill for Illinois taxpayers to shoulder considering how many of the inmates are non-violent offenders.

1 comment:

  1. Great point. As one wise person once said, "We ought to incarcerate those we are afraid of, not those we are mad at". Surely, we can justly punish in some other way than incarcerating at a high cost while they get a "graduate" degree in criminal behavior from the professionals already incarcerated.
    The best way to "enhance the success of reentry to society" is for the community to step up, go into the prisons, get to know inmates and offer to mentor one as they reenter their community. You may not only help change a life, but the next generation.