Senate Bill 3233: Earned Discretionary Release
Illinois prisons hold over 5,000 people serving life and de-facto life sentences. Legislation was passed in 1978 eliminating parole, leaving the state with no mechanism to review those incarcerated for release. Nearly every other state has a procedure for reviewing and releasing people with long-term sentences who are ready to rejoin society. Illinois does not. If nothing changes, Illinois taxpayers will be billed for geriatric prisons while thousands of Illinoisans will be required to grow old and die behind bars, with no periodic review of whether their continued incarceration is necessary for public safety.
Sponsored by State Senators Celina Villanueva (D) and Robert Peters (D), SB3233 shifts the focus of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) from warehousing to rehabilitating people by giving every incarcerated Illinoisan the right to regular review by the Prisoner Review Board. The bill establishes that a person serving a term of imprisonment is eligible for review by the Prisoner Review Board when they have served the lesser of: at least 20 years; 25% of their sentence; or the minimum term of imprisonment for the most serious offense for which the person was convicted.
In addition, SB3233:
- Provides incarcerated Illinoisans incentive to improve their lives and a path to productive return to society.
- Takes into account the drastic drop in recidivism rates that occurs as people age.
- Will save the state millions by releasing people who are rehabilitated before they become old and infirm
- Allows individuals who have aged out of crime and pose little risk to public safety an opportunity to return to productive lives.
Experts believe that the numerous recent exonerations represent only the tip of the iceberg of people who have been wrongfully convicted.By ensuring periodic reviews for release for anyone incarcerated for over 20 years, SB 3233 serves as a safety valve for those who have been wrongly convicted, but lack the resources to prove their innocence, as well as others with extreme sentences who are ready to return home.
SB3233 has been endorsed by over 4,300 individuals and more than 40 organizations including the Chicago Community Bond Fund and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
List of Endorsing Organizations:
57th St. Meeting of Friends
Black and Pink Chicago
Campaign Nonviolence Depaul
Chicago 400 Alliance
Chicago Books to Women in Prison
Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF)
Chicago Torture Justice Center (CTJC)
Faith In Place Action Fund
Freedom To Learn Illinois
Good Kids Mad City
Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (IL-CHEP)
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICCIRR)
Jean and Jane 420
John Howard Association
Judicial Accountability PAC
Justice Works, University of Chicago Social Services Administration
Mothers Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity (MAMAS)
New Community Church (Bronzeville)
Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD)
Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation
Right2Vote Campaign & SawariMedia
Shiller Preyar Jarard and Samuels Law Firm
Soapbox Productions and Organizing
Students Against Incarceration
Students for Justice in Palestine, DePaul University
Black Students Union, University of Illinois Chicago
Uptown People’s Law Center
Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois