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In 1978, Illinois joined the minority of U.S. states that chose to abolish their discretionary parole. Since then, the prison population in Illinois skyrocketed by over 500 percent, from roughly 6,000 inmates in the 1970s to over 40,000 today. And while not the only reason, the abandonment of discretionary parole was a certain factor contributing to our state’s current prison crisis.
At core, parole is a period of supervised, early release from prison. It is an alternative to incarceration that—when done right—can reduce prison costs and reduce crime. Yet there are no shortage of myths surrounding parole in Illinois, from the assumption that it doesn’t work to the belief that Illinois already has parole in the form of determinate sentencing and mandatory supervised release (MSR).
Surprisingly (or maybe not), these myths are often held by the legislators who vote on parole bills.
We think it’s important that people have answers. For that reason, Restore Justice has put together a primer on parole as it relates to Illinois. Some of the topics it touches on include: