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Establish a System of Earned Release for Illinois Prisoners

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We, Illinois voters, urge the General Assembly to enact legislation to establish a system of earned release for determinately sentenced prisoners. Such a system would allow some prisoners to earn their way out of prison, after a specified number of years or after reaching a specified age, through successful completion of programs requiring education, job training, restorative justice, socialization, demonstration of remorse, and an official finding that she/he is no longer a threat to public safety. We believe that people, including some prisoners, can and do change and that warehousing prisoners, as is currently happening in Illinois, is inconsistent with democratic values and a moral culture. The Illinois Constitution (Article 1, Section 11), states, \"All sentences shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.\" We recognize the pain and suffering of crime victims and their family members. We believe that a system of earned release would enable Illinois to respect its own constitutional requirements, demonstrate Illinois\' capacity for mercy and substantially reduce prison expenditures, and enlist the support of many victims and family members. We believe that the current system, under which at least 5,000 prisoners have sentences that will assure their dying in prison, is dangerous to both staff and prisoners because there are no incentives and no opportunities for changing criminal behavior. We believe that an earned release system would not only be safer for staff and prisoners, but would protect society by insuring that prisoners who are unable to earn their release will remain incarcerated indefinitely


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