Every year people die in the custody of Illinois Department of Corrections, the vast majority due in part to overincarceration.
COVID-19 is highlighting this fact because it is attacking the elderly and infirm, many of whom have spent decades enduring harsh prison conditions. They die lonely deaths for no other reason than incarceration politics, and in a vain attempt to satiate the insatiable appetite some people have for revenge.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and others have recently voiced support for early releases of “non-violent offenders,” and insinuate that this shows they still consider public safety as the main priority. Not only is this insufficient to address mass incarceration, but if public safety is the main priority, then they should have no problem releasing “violent offenders.”
That’s because people convicted of violent offenses have lower recidivism rates and even a lower likelihood of committing violence if released.
The thousands of people currently serving long sentences are doing so due to racism, fear-mongering, dehumanization, political exploitation, and the false promise that harsher sentences are needed to deter crime.
Joseph Dole Is An Incarcerated Writer, Co-Founder & Policy Director Of Parole Illinois