. Below is synopsis of Elderly Sentence Adjustment Act as almost past in IL legislature plus statement in favor of bill. The usual politically based hysteria finally killed it .
Elderly Sentence Adjustment ACT
House Bill 4154
95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
State of Illinois
2007 and 2008
Introduced , by Rep. Eddie Washington
SYNOPSIS AS INTRODUCED:
730 ILCS 5/5-8-1 from Ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1
730 ILCS 5/5-8-1.4 new
Amends the Unified Code of Corrections. Provides that a committed person who is at least 50 years of age and who has served at least 25 consecutive years of imprisonment in a Department of Corrections institution or facility and is serving a sentence other than death may petition the circuit court for an elderly sentence adjustment. Provides the contents of such petition and establishes criteria that the court shall use to determine whether the committed person shall be granted an elderly sentence adjustment. Provides that the court shall consider the petition in its entirety and may not order the release of the committed person if the court finds that the committed person poses a threat to public safety. Provides that if the court determines that a committed person is eligible for an elderly sentence adjustment and determines that the committed person should receive a sentence adjustment, the court shall set the conditions for the committed person’s release from prison before the expiration of the committed person’s sentence imposed by the sentencing court. Provides for notification of the families of victims if a petition for elderly sentence adjustment is filed. Provides that the Department of Corrections shall develop a pilot program patterned after the Impact of Crime on Victims Class (ICVC), including the Restorative Justice segment, used by the Missouri Department of Corrections. Provides that the pilot program shall be implemented in one maximum security prison for women and one maximum security prison for men. Provides that the ICVC shall be made available to prisoners eligible for elderly sentence adjustment on a voluntary basis.
HB 4154:Statement of Ted Pearson
Co-Chairperson of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression-Chicago
April 30, 2008
House Committee on Prison Reform
We support passage of HB 4154. It is a first step in correcting what is wrong with the Illinois criminal justice system. There are many things that need to be changed. Highest on the list of priorities must be the abolition of the death penalty. Capital punishment and prison sentences in excess of 25 years
are not the norm among democratic countries. Abolishing capital punishment and reforming sentencing laws are not in contradiction; they are two parts of a whole. When all the tires on a vehicle are flat, fixing one is not a TedPearson Continued…
step forward. The car won’t go forward without fixing them all. Of course, we may be able to fix only one wheel at a time, but fixing one wheel and promising not to fix the others means that we remain stuck with a vehicle that’s fundamentally broken.
A survey of those in Illinois Department of Corrections prisons1 on April 5, 2008 shows that by January 1,2009,658 prisoners will be older than 50 and will have served 25 years. This includes 216 “C numbers” who are already eligible for parole.
HB 4154 allows for
• the possibility that people can change
• The possibility for offenders to understand the damage they have done through a process of restorative justice, reconciliation, and restitution.
There is one aspect of HB 4154 about which we in the NAARPR are not sure. The bill, as it is presently drafted, refers the cases of prisoners back to the original sentencing court for sentence review after 25 years. We see potential problems with this approach.
We believe that it is possible that, when combined with a policy and practice of implementing a genuine program of restorative justice, including restitution, reconciliation and restoration of victims and offenders, the current system of recommendations of parole by the duly constituted Prisoner Review Board may be fairer to all concerned.
The present system is not working. It is not protecting our families and our communities from crime. Recent reports from the FBI2 show that in spite of the steady increase in the number of people in prison and the rate of incarceration, violent crimes continue to increase in number. Furthermore, prison does nothing to restore the
victims of crime or heal their families. Prison does nothing to rehabilitate offenders, as indicated by the very high recidivism rate among those who are released.
Lastly, crime wreaks havoc among the families of both victims and offenders. Losing a loved one to senseless murder is impossible to ever heal. But so is the pain and suffering caused by the offender to his or her own family. Family life is destroyed and resources exhausted for the families of offenders. While the emotional trauma of crime never ends for families victimized by violent crime, the emotional and financial trauma never ends for the families of offenders, whose resources are devastated by legal fees, outrageous charges for prison telephone calls, many hours and many dollars spent travelling often many hundreds of miles to visit loved ones, and the loss of the offender’s income to his or her family while they are in prison. In addition, after their release, prisoners are almost unemployable.
The current system is based on a punitive model. Many studies indicate that punishment alone does_ not deter crime. Yet punishment is_ almost all the current system does^
Some representatives of police organizations and families of victims of violent crime oppose HB 4154. They have a right to be heard, and to be listened to.
The legislature should not, however, fall victim to corporate interests who have a huge stake in the multi-million dollar prison industrial complex, and who cynically encourage such groups to vent their anger and pain against reform. The contractors, suppliers, and construction companies that profit from the perpetuation of the current system are doing fine in the current system, at least in the short run. Our communities are not. •
The Tamms Reform Bill Continued…
legislators and audience, despite the wilting heat, was joyful. It was the result of hope that the system for sending men to Tamms will soon become more transparent and that those prisoners left at Tamms for a decade may soon be transferred elsewhere.
1 This compilation was made by downloading all the data sheets from the IDOC web site for prisoners in that database on April 9, 2008. On that date there were 41,998 people in IDOC adult prisons. Of them 4,709 have dates of birth prior to January 1, 1954. Of this 4709, 658 have custody dates prior to January 1, 1984. 177 of these 658 are serving sentences of natural life without possibility of parole. ‘ U.S. Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “2006 Crime in the United States – Preliminary Semi-annual Uniform Crime Report” cited by Talvi, Silva J. A. in The Nation, January 22,2007. •
From Statesville Speaks July 2008 Newsletter