Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prison Reform Legislation Provides Early Release Opportunities For Any Offender Over Age 50, Even Those Serving LWOP For Mass Murder

This bill was voted down click here to see post about the vote.


This has become an urgent call! This bill will hit the floor next week. Even if you are not from Illinois, these violent offenders may be free to walk the streets, and who knows, they could move to your neighborhood. Susan Murphy Milano has compiled an easy to read list of phone numbers for the State Legislators who will vote on this bill and added some helpful suggestions for what to say. Just click here to go to Susan's blog. Katfishponders has placed these calls and encourages you to do so as well.


Many states across our country are holding public policy discussions to reform their criminal justice systems - and rightly so, many reforms are needed - among them, victims rights! These discussions may include legislation that would retroactively change the sentence of violent and serious offenders. Do you know if your state has legislation on the table to make retroactive changes in sentencing?

Katfishponders recently became aware that in Illinois there is a Bill called HOUSE BILL 45 (HB45) that has passed committee and is heading for full floor vote in Illinois House.
HB 45 that would provide early release opportunities for any offender over age 50, even if he is serving life without parole for mass murder.

Since 1978 Illinois has not used indeterminate sentencing (parole) in our prisons, our prison system uses determinate sentencing. This massive reform, widely supported by both the offender and victim community alike, and widely supported by the entire law enforcement and most of the legal community, took much of the politics and randomness out of prisoners' sentences by eliminating parole.

Parole was a wildly discriminatory system, never applied consistently, and very subject to human error and politics. Now under determinate sentencing all prisoners except murderers are eligible to earn up to half off their sentences but ONLY measured objectively by their own good behavior - not some politically appointed board. Every day they are good, they earn a day off their sentence. (Some serious non murder cases like aggravated rape can only earn 15% off and murders as of 1993 can not earn any time off.)

Now that the full House could vote on it anytime we are urging all those who support victims and do not wish to see them tortured 25 years after they received legal finality in their cases, to contact members of the Illinois House and tell them not to vote for murderers. Tell them you want them to vote no for House Bill 45.

IllinoisVictims.org note just a FEW of the significant concerns with Housebill 45:

HB 45 would undo determinate sentencing and truth in sentencing in Illinois

Life without Parole sentences would be meaningless

Victims families no longer have any legal finality to the nightmare trauma of life after a murder in their families

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board is NOT a parole board and not qualified in its construct, personnel, or enabling statutes to evaluate prisoners for risk to public safety, or a change in their sentence, essentially taking on the job of the original court of law that tried, convicted and sentenced them.

Public safety is at risk

Prison sentences are proposed to be retroactively changed by the legislature and a politically appointed board in this process - completely abandoning the lengthy judicial and due process given each case.


Synopsis of House Bill 45 As Introduced 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 Prisoner Review Board for an elderly sentence adjustment.

Provides that the Prisoner Review Board may not order the release of the committed person if the Prisoner Review Board finds that the committed person poses a threat to public safety.

Provides that if the Prisoner Review Board determines that a committed person is eligible for an elderly sentence adjustment and determines that the committed person should receive a sentence adjustment, the Prisoner Review Board shall set the conditions for the committed person's release from prison before the expiration of the committed person's sentence.

Provides that the Prisoner Review Board when adjusting a sentence shall require 10 hours of community service for each year served in prison and require electronic monitoring for at least 6 months.

Provides that a petition for sentencing adjustment shall be submitted only once unless the Prisoner Review Board decides unusual circumstances warrant another hearing.

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.

Katfishponders encourages it's readers to contact their Illinois House Representatives if not all House Members and encourage them to vote NO for House Bill 45. Click here for a complete listing of contact information for Illinois House members.

illinoisvictims.org Sphere: Related Content


  1. Something has to be done. If it can happen in Illinois it can happen here in Florida too.

  2. I think the non violent prisoners should be released early. We the tax payers are paying to much to keep them behind bars. Mainly the ones that are in there for non support. Put them on house arrest, make them get a job and take care of their kids.

  3. Jill,
    You are so right!

    anon. 9:22 AM,
    I agree wholeheartedly that there does need to be prison reform for non-violent offenders. Please let your legislators know how you feel.

    If Housebill 45 passes, it doesn't discriminate between violent and non violent offenders. This bill will only affect those serving 25+ years and says anyone over 50 years old and not sentenced to death is eligible for an elderly sentence adjustment. Fifty years old is not elderly on the outside and shouldn't be considered as such on the inside. Vote no on House Bill 45.