Lawmakers and Illinois residents want more details on Governor Pat Quinn’s plan for the early release of prison inmates, as a way to free up state revenues and reduce overcrowding in state correctional facilities.

The September 18 announcement about Governor Quinn’s planned early release of roughly 1,000 Illinois inmates has sparked concern across the state. Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Michael Randle, however, stressed that the inmates who are released will be “low-level, non-violent, short-term” offenders.

DOC has said there will be no early release of sex offenders, inmates who committed crimes against other people, anyone with a current order of protection against them or former parole violators. The early-release inmates are to come from minimum-security prisons—no early releases will be made from medium-security or maximum-security facilities.

Governor Quinn has said the early release program is a way to save the state money, and will help non-violent offenders—primarily drug offenders—who will benefit from the community rehabilitation services and programs that are not as accessible in Illinois’ correctional facilities. However, opponents have questioned how the state’s already strained parole and social service system can effectively monitor and assist hundreds of new parolees.

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