February 18, Springfield, IL
Criminals would no longer qualify for good time credit before setting foot in state prison under legislation a House committee approved today.Seriously, the prison officials are probably in the best position to make the decision. The trend was to credit non-violent offenders with good time in large part to make room for violent and habitual offenders. If we, the voters, are going to take that right away then we better be prepared to pay the tab. As a taxpayer, I can tell you (yes you can ask many of the prosecutors that I know) I don't want to pay housing and food costs for non-violent offenders. You maybe shocked to discover how many people, when given a choice of Sheriff's Work Alternative Program (SWAP)or jail, choose jail. You know why? One young man told me he would play dominoes with his friends. Do you know what kind of home life must await someone who would choose jail over SWAP? Do you know what the average cost is to house an inmate in Illinois? It's time these questions were answered prior to letting our elected officials appear to "get tough" on crime.
The measure is a response to Gov. Pat Quinn's botched early release program that ended after reports surfaced that some criminals who got out were arrested for new offenses. It became a major issue in the final month of the Democratic governor primary campaign between Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes.
The proposal would eliminate prison officials' authority to award credit to inmates before they begin their terms.