IDOC Frees 120 Inmates in Early Release Program

May 7, 2013

The Illinois Department of Corrections has freed 120 inmates as part of a new early-release program. But the director of the department says letting more inmates out is not the answer to overcrowding in prisons.

IL Department of Corrections inmates in overflow temporary quarters
Credit WJBC

Illinois prisons are really crowded. They've got a rated capacity of about 34,000 inmates, but have routinely been housing more than 49,000.  That's in part because of a scandal tied to an early-release program a few years ago.  Now there's a new program in which inmates can earn time off their sentences based on their behavior and potential for rehabilitation.

The director of the Department of Corrections, Tony Godinez, says in addition to the 120 inmates released through the new sentence-credit program, more than 150 others have been freed on electronic detention. But he suggests that releasing more prisoners will not solve the problem: We do not control who comes in. So we're doing everything we can in working with our partners in getting that voice heard, that we want someone to help us to control the numbers that come in."

Godinez says that's why he and Quinn oppose legislation that would impose mandatory-minimum sentences for certain gun crimes. A non-partisan prison monitoring group says that proposal could result in nearly 4,000 more inmates.