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Illinois Early Release Prisoners Arrested for New Crimes

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By Kamika Dunlap on January 05, 2010 11:45 AM

More than a dozen Illinois prisoners freed in an early release program are back behind bars and accused of new violent crimes.

The state secretly allowed the early release of inmates under an early release program by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

As previously reported, the governor recently suspended the early release program as it had drawn concern from prosecutors.

In addition, the Associated Press had obtained and analyzed information showing at least 850 prisoners spending as little as 14 days total of a year's sentence behind bars since September. Corrections is granting them months of good-conduct time when they enter prison.

That reversed a state policy of requiring Illinois prisoners to serve at least 61 days before receiving good time.

The meritorious good time program is separate from a Gov. Quinn's previous plan to allow the early release of 1,000 non-violent offenders.

The state had allowed the early release of repeat drunk drivers, drug users and even people convicted of battery and weapons violations in order to save the state $5 million annually.

Dan Hynes, who is challenging Quinn in February's gubernatorial primary, demanded a public investigation that begins with Quinn himself, to determine who's responsible for the program and who will be held accountable "on such obvious issues of public safety."

Many criminal prosecutors say the early release of prisoners may save money on the front end but ultimately undermines the Illinois court system in the long run.

The prisoners who were picked up again for such crimes as domestic battery, unlawful weapons use and aggravated battery.

Since Gov. Quinn suspended the policy change and plans to release findings of a review he ordered.

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