Foxx will no longer make recommendations to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on parole.
Foxx called the practice a “relic” of the past and said prosecutors are experts on the facts of the crimes but not on inmates’ conduct in prison — ending a decades-long practice by her office of offering opinions on parole requests.
A million families live this way: Sending money they can’t afford. Making court dates they don’t have time for. Driving five hours only to be turned away, because the facility is on lockdown or because someone’s dress isn’t long enough.
It’s the way the guard talks to you when you visit, and how you’re herded single file through dingy corridors to pay too much for microwave concessions. It’s watching your loved ones demolish that food and how they’re marched away when the visit ends.
It’s feeling alone, though everyone you know has experienced this.
One in two Americans have lived some version of this story, because half of all U.S. residents and a full two thirds of all Black people have a loved one who has done time. However, it’s not just the family members who are frustrated.
It’s especially hard for people in prison.
Ligon, re-sentenced to 35 years to life in 2017, rejected the very idea of parole after nearly seven decades in prison.
“I like to be free,” he said. “With parole, you got to see the parole people every so often. You can’t leave the city without permission from parole. That’s part of freedom for me.”
“We waste people’s lives by over-incarcerating and we waste money by over-incarcerating. Hopefully his release, and the release of the juvenile lifers in general, will cause a reevaluation of the way we incarcerate people.”
A first-of-its-kind court case in Pennsylvania is asking a big question: How long do people need to stay in prison before they get a second chance?
More than 1,000 people are serving life without parole in Pennsylvania, even though they never intended to kill anyone. Seventy percent of those people are Black.
A former judge and a current inmate believe that people who commit serious crimes under the age of 25 should have the chance to be released once they turn 50 rather than face a sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.
“There is so much research that has been done that people’s brains don’t really develop until they are around 25,” said Sen. Arthur Rusch, a Republican from Vermillion who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We made a horrible, horrible, horrible mistake and a horrible choice of judgment,” but “I know that people can change and people can learn from their mistakes,” said Renee Eckes, a 42-year-old woman serving a life sentence for murdering a man when she was 19.
Prisons have had 10 months to take measures to reduce their populations and save lives amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Yet our comparison of 13 states’ parole grant rates from 2019 and 2020 reveals that many have failed to utilize parole as a mechanism for releasing more people to the safety of their homes.
In over half of the states we studied—Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – between 2019 and 2020, there was either no change or a decrease in parole grant rates.