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Governor Rauner Forms Criminal Justice Reform Panel

Posted on in Criminal Law

criminal justice reform panel, Illinois criminal defense lawyerLast month, Governor Rauner announced his formation of a commission to study the Illinois criminal justice system, with the goal of putting it through a complete overhaul. The announcement took place at the Sangamon County Courthouse. The site was chosen based on Sangamon County's participation in an initiative known as Adult Redeploy Illinois. That program is designed to encourage local jurisdictions to develop diversionary programs that allow non-violent offenders to work to benefit the community. The aim of the program is to rehabilitate the offenders, rather than simply allowing them to be funneled back into the overcrowded Illinois prison system.

The Panel's Goals

The panel will focus on the issue of prison overcrowding. At present, there are just over 48,000 adults in prison in Illinois. Most people acknowledge this is a serious overcrowding problem; however, it is the subject of debate.

To begin, prison capacity can be measured in two ways. First, there is the design capacity. A prison system's design capacity refers to how many inmates the prisons were built to hold. The second is operational capacity. A prison system's operational capacity is the maximum amount of inmates that the system can hold and still function.

In Illinois, the prison system's design capacity is only 33,000—well below the current numbers. But, the operational capacity of the Illinois system is 49,000. This means that there is technically enough space in Illinois prisons to keep them functioning, but there will not be if the prison population rises much more.

Potential Areas of Focus

Although it is still early in the life of the new panel, the governor's speech did provide hints in regards to areas of the commission's focus. First, the commission will work to reduce the number of people entering the prison system. Second, the commission will focus on the rehabilitative goals of the prison system. One possible way that the commission may seek to fulfill these goals is by advocating an increase in the sort of diversionary programs that Sangamon and other counties have already begun using to an extent. However, Rauner desires a more focused approach.

While the new commission may eventually promote a variety of sentencing reforms, at present many criminal charges can still lead to serious penalties. If you are facing criminal charges, please contact a Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your rights.

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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