SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, and state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, unveiled their parole reform legislation, equalizing the racial gap in the state’s criminal justice system during a press conference on Tuesday.
Ammons spoke about her House Bill 3373, which will reform the parole process in Illinois. Currently, the Prisoner Review Board has the complete authority to decide whether to hear an appeal for parole. Under Ammons’ bill, inmates that meet certain criteria, such as time served and proof of rehabilitation, would be automatically entitled to a parole hearing.
“Statistics show that, as a prison sentence continues, the individual’s likelihood to reoffend drops drastically, so we have to ask ourselves why these rehabilitated prisoners and the courts are not able to reconsider the conditions of lifelong imprisonment,” Ammons said. “As chair of the Black Caucus, it is my mission to undo the racial biases throughout our state, and since black and brown people make up a disproportionate amount of those incarcerated with life sentences, we have a real opportunity to change that with this legislation.”
Slaughter’s House Bill 2045 allows for someone who is serving for life in person to be eligible for parole and mandatory supervised release under certain circumstances. Anyone 55 years or older and has served 25 consecutive years may be eligible to petition the Prisoner Review Board for parole. The board may require petitioners to submit a written statement listing why they are requesting parole, evidence of rehabilitation, character references, among other information. Victim families continue to have the opportunity to participate in the petitioner’s proceedings.
“Research has made it clear, time after time, that the majority of all crimes are committed by individuals under the age of 40,” said Slaughter. ” It simply does not make sense to continue to keep people with very little risk of reoffending and often costly medical issues behind bars.”
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