In February of this year, the Illinois House and Senate passed a bill that addresses criminal justice reform. The governor signed the bill into law, and it went into effect in the summer.
The bill is broad and outlines changes for many facets of the criminal justice system. One area that the bill addresses is prison and sentencing reforms.
According to The Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability at the Civic Federation, one of the reforms regards sentencing for mandatory minimums. When the court is determining sentencing for an offense that has a mandatory minimum, the judge may sentence the offender to a lesser imprisonment term, conditional discharge or probation if the defendant does not pose a safety threat and the offense relates to:
- Retail theft
- Use or possession of drugs
- Driving on a revoked license due to unpaid financial responsibilities
There was also a change made to sentence credits. Previously, the court allowed a maximum of 180 days of earned sentence credit for any prison term. Now, prisoners who are fulfilling a sentence of five years or more can earn up to 365 days of sentence credit. Prisoners can also earn additional sentence credits by partaking in a variety of programs while in custody.
The bill outlines a process for the reporting and investigation of all prison deaths that occur due to a peace officer’s use of force.
There are also changes regarding pregnant prisoners. There must be training for mental health care and medical issues that relate specifically to pregnancy. The pregnant patients must also take educational programming. After the birth of the baby, the infant is able to stay with the prisoner for the first 72 hours, and the prison must provide the necessary items for the care of the infant.