CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a new law on Friday that makes changes to the state’s parole system.
Senate Bill 423 implements a number of reforms to the state’s mandatory supervised release for prisoners, including incentivizing people on parole to obtain a degree, recommending early termination with a good post-release track record, and expanding remote check-ins with a parole officer.
In Illinois, 100,000 people are currently on probation, parole or mandatory supervised release, according to the governor’s office. More than 25% return to prison within 3 years due to non-criminal technical violations, such as missing a meeting with a probation officer.
The law also updates state law regarding drug testing prior to parole hearings, requiring drug tests only if there is reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use.
“This legislation is, in its essence, about families. When you’re locked up, your kids are locked up as well,” said Sadie Joseph, who works for Sweet Beginnings, a Chicago-area skin product business that employs parolees. “To get out sooner means you’ll be able to continue to raise your kids and get back on your feet. It means the world to your kids. But it’s also about the value of a second chance. When we’re given a second chance, most people take it and won’t mess up.”
The legislation was drafted by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Prisoner Review Board, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, Reform Alliance, and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, in addition to multiple community groups.
“Supervision is too often a trap when it should be a support system. This new law changes that. It rewards accountability, encourages self-improvement, and gives people the tools to build better lives for themselves,” said co-chair of the activist group REFORM, Michael Rubin.
The law goes into effect on January 1st, 2024.