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Illinois Suspends Second Early Release Program

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By Kamika Dunlap on January 08, 2010 12:14 PM

Facing serious criticism, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn suspended a second early release program for state prisoners, pending review.

According to the Associated Press, this early release program is separate from "MGT" (meritorious good time credit) secret release program that was recently halted.

The Corrections Department confirmed that Gov. Quinn has stopped a separate program to release 1,000 nonviolent offenders who are within the last year of their sentence. About 170 prisoners have been released to electronic monitoring under the program Quinn announced in September.

But the program is now suspended pending a review of all early release programs by the new public safety officer.

The governor put the program on hold after the secret program known as "MGT Push" had drawn concern from prosecutors.

As previously reported, 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.

But the AP's investigation of a secret policy change prompted Gov. Pat Quinn to suspend the early release program. Under the policy change inmates with short sentences were no longer required to be held for a minimum of 61 days and given months of good-conduct credit up front.

In addition, more than a dozen Illinois prisoners freed in an early release program are back behind bars and accused of new violent crimes, as previously discussed.

As a result, Gov. Quinn reinstated the 61-day rule and named a public safety officer to oversee early release plans and the awarding of good-conduct time for prisoners, which can shorten their sentences.

The report on the MGT Push brought a storm of criticism from Comptroller Dan Hynes, who is challenging Quinn for the Democratic nomination for governor in the February 2 primary. Hynes accuses Quinn of endangering the public and offering "lame" excuses for MGT Push.

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