Gov. Rauner Working to Lower Prison Inmate Numbers in Illinois


There are nearly 50,000 inmates in the state’s prisons. Governor Bruce Rauner is looking to lower that number. His plan includes alternatives for offenders sentenced to less than a year, increasing costs to counties and taking a second look at the length of time served.

“If I don’t share my testimony with anybody, how would they know that they could come out of that hell-like condition that they are in?”

Courtney Carson had his ups-and-downs with the law when he was young.

“My life has been somewhat of a struggle, but I had a mentor that took me under his wing.”

Now a mentor himself, Carson helps those with a rough past, start over.

“Make them believe that they can be positive and productive path.”

But, help across the state for those with a criminal history is hard to come by. In 2002, there were 136 vocational programs offered by IDOC; by 2011, only 66.

“We need dollars for programs so when those individuals come out of the penal system, they won’t find themselves right back in it,” said Carson.

Governor Rauner issued an executive order at the beginning of his term. He wants to reduce the prison population by 25% in the next ten years.

On average, it costs more than $22,000 to incarcerate a prisoner in Illinois.

“Let’s measure it and where we can’t measure it, where we’re not measuring it, let’s figure it out. There’s got to be a way to measure it. It’s hard to manage what you can’t measure,” said Governor Rauner.

Rauner, with members of the Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, are coming up with plans like offering probation over prison to hit the goal.

“We got to become much more evidence-based, database. Shoot, let’s measure. Let’s measure what we’re doing, hold ourselves to outcomes,” said Rauner.

Carson said it starts with changing the system.

“We need to take a deep look at those individuals and not say that that’s a petty crime and I believe in our justice system, when they’re working the justice system, not corrupting the justice system.”

In Thursday’s recommendations, Rauner said only some would require new laws as opposed to administrative action.

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