Message from Montie

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Illinois nonviolent prisoners released early this fall, will recidivism occur?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Governor Pat Quinn will be releasing 62 of 1,000 nonviolent prison inmates this fall to save Illinois $5 million, according to Chicago Breaking News. The nonviolent inmates are drug offenders and those convicted of nonviolent property crimes, but homicide or sex offenders will not be released, according to CBS2. The freed inmates will have to report to their parole officers each month, and these 400 parole officers are also in charge of monitoring 30,000 adult and juvenile parolees total.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Corrections 2003 study revealed that property offenders represent 30 percent of the prison population and drug offenders represent a little under one-fourth of the population even though they have the highest percentages of sentences imposed (38.5 percent imposed, 41.5 admissions and 43.1 released). If majority of the prison population are violent criminals and none of these criminals are being released, I can see why this decision was being made. I don't have a problem with it.

 

What I am concerned about is the current unemployment rate in Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois unemployment skyrocketed to 10.2 percent leaving 15.7 million people unemployed.  If these unemployed people are fighting to find new jobs, I wonder whether newly released prisoners will hurt their chances. Probably not considering the hoops that ex-cons have to go through in order to find a job.

 

But that brings up another issue. Releasing nonviolent criminals to the public to save millions of dollars makes economical sense, especially considering they're in there with rapists and murderers. I strongly don't agree with putting distinctly different criminals altogether like they're one in the same. Putting the weed guy in with another person who shot a house full of people in the same living facility to live just doesn't seem like justice to me.

 

But the worst part is that the struggle for ex-cons to find a job once they've been released is just about impossible, and I don't support recidivism. If you did your time, you should be able to find a job like anybody else. If you're treated like a prisoner even after doing the required prison term, what was the point of prison? I see no logic whatsoever in those job applications that ask about whether you've had a felony charge within a certain amount of years or if you've ever had one, but then the United States sends honest and hard-working people overseas with felony records to train them on using just about every gun possible. If soldiers with felony records are trustworthy enough to fight for our country, why can't they get a regular job here in the U.S.?

 

The United States treatment of felons with prison records or those with felony records who didn't serve time in prison are about the same--difficult to find a job, treated like a prisoner even when they're "free" and some will probably go right back to prison. The odds are against them as soon as they are released. Do you think that ex-prisoners should be given ready-made jobs when they're released from prison considering they'll probably have a harder time finding a job or should they be treated as equal to those who are currently unemployed with a clean record (never mind the bias against ex-cons that could lead to repeat crimes)?

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6 Comments

Joe the Cop said:

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Recidivism will definitely occur. Close to 60% of all prisoners released from the Illinois Department of Corrections will re-offend within 3 years of their release. This plan strikes me as a terrible and short-sighted idea. We're setting those parolees up for failure and re-arrest, and we're setting up a bunch of law-abiding citizens for victimization. I posted about the plan here and when it was first announced.

Message from Montie said:

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How are law abiding citizens being set up for victimization from nonviolent people?

Joe the Cop said:

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I'll put it this way--if 1,000 inmates get released early, recidivism statistics tell us that between 500 and 600 of them are going to re-offend within a couple of years. That's 500-600 victims who would not have been targeted had those prisoners stayed in prison and finished their sentences. The state has made a decision to save money at the expense of non-criminal citizens.

Talk to anyone who's had their home broken into and ask them if they felt better knowing that the burglar who rooted through their stuff was a "non-violent" criminal.

Message from Montie said:

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I have had my home broken into by a nonviolent criminal. I don't know why you have it in quotes. They didn't do anything violent. I don't need to talk to anyone when I know myself, and even if they had finished their sentence, when they get out, they're still going to have the same problem finding a job. THAT'S why recidivism happens, not because they're released early. People come out of prison unprepared to deal with society, looked at as criminals AFTER serving their time, and all but no way to find a job. I've had this argument with police time and time again. We're going to agree to disagree.

asturk said:

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I think a person's perception of what who is violent or non-violent varies. I do think most people think if you've been to jail you are a bad person. I have a friend in the illinois system right now who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years for throwing a bag of weed on the ground. He went to his friends house who was having a domestic dispute with his girlfriend to calm the sittuation down and as he was leaving the police were pulling up. At court they said they were going to make an example out of him and instead of giving him the probation which is the normal sentence, he now has missed out on his daughter being born and countless birthdays. Good way to spend tax dollars don't you think?

Message from Montie said:

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And that's my point! I'm not worried about somebody selling weed. I'm worried about the rapists or murderers getting out, but even those aren't all black and white. What about those who are in prison on self-defense cases? There's always two sides to every story (minus the rapists).

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