SPRINGFIELD – January 14, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that will increase public safety by advancing his ongoing overhaul and reform of the Illinois Department of Corrections’ meritorious good conduct credit program that can reduce prison sentences.
“I thank and congratulate the General Assembly for backing my recommendations and taking swift action to enact this important public safety initiative,” said Governor Quinn. “This law will protect the public while preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and the court’s sentencing of offenders.”
The new Public Safety Initiative law establishes key requirements regarding meritorious good conduct credits that can reduce prison sentences. The law requires prisoners in state custody to serve at least 60 days of their sentences before being eligible for meritorious good conduct credit.
Last month, at the Governor’s direction, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) reinstated an agency practice requiring inmates to serve this minimum amount of time in a state facility before being awarded such credit.
The law also requires IDOC to provide at least 14 days advance notice to the appropriate local prosecutors prior to releasing an inmate receiving meritorious good conduct credit.
Senate Bill 1013 is one major result of Governor Quinn’s mandate to repair IDOC’s Meritorious Good Time (MGT) program, a release program first authorized by statute in 1978. On December 30, Governor Quinn announced an overhaul of this prison release program and committed to working with the General Assembly to quickly enact reforms. These changes are based on feedback from criminal justice expert and former judge David A. Erickson, whose review of the MGT program for the Quinn Administration will include meetings with law enforcement officials, state’s attorneys and other stakeholders, including the John Howard Association.
As part of his ongoing overhaul, Governor Quinn last month terminated IDOC’s recently-accelerated MGT program, which did not require inmates to spend at least 60 days in IDOC custody before being awarded any meritorious credit.
In addition, the new law formalizes Governor Quinn’s December order that IDOC must provide local prosecutors with at least 14 days advance notice before releasing an inmate based on meritorious good conduct credit. This notice will provide local authorities with sufficient opportunity to appropriately respond to and disseminate notices.
The passage of the new law is only one part of Governor Quinn’s continuing effort to reform the IDOC meritorious good conduct credit program. The Governor recently announced appointments to further improve the administration of IDOC programs affecting public safety.
Governor Quinn named law enforcement veteran Michael J. McCotter as Chief Public Safety Officer at IDOC. The Governor also named Sean Vinck, Chief of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Office of the Governor, as a special administrator for IDOC, and Mark S. Prosperi, a former Assistant United States Attorney, as Public Safety Liaison Officer for the Office of the Governor.
Senate Bill 1013, sponsored by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), is effective immediately. For more information on IDOC, please visit: www.idoc.state.il.us