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"Serious Flaws" in Quinn's Early Prison Release Program

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Members of Gov. Pat Quinn's administration on Friday admitted that mistakes were made in the implementation of an early release prison program.

    They said the Meritorious Good Time program contained "serious flaws," including a failure to notify local police when prisoners were sent home.

    The admission came at a news conference which coincided with the release of an investigation conducted by a former appellate Judge David Erickson.

    Erickson's reports claims it was a mistake for the Corrections Department to abandon its unwritten policy of requiring prisoners to serve 61 days before being granted time off for good behavior and decried the the fact that dangerous criminals were sometimes mixed into the effort.

    "You can't treat everybody like it's one mass pool,"  an animated Erickson said.

    Under the now-cancelled early release program, inmates were given time off as soon as they walked through the prison doors. Some were released after serving just a few days behind bars, weeks earlier than they would have been sent home in the past.

    By then, some 1,700 inmates had been granted early release. That number includes hundreds of prisoners with records of violence.

    Quinn fingered Corrections chief Michael Randle as the man responsible. He said Randle was not supposed to include violent offenders in the program.

    Randle said that all departments were told to save money, but would not say that the governor pressured him to come up with the program. 

    "Long term, you want offenders to earn credits," said Randle.  "This entire situation has been built up over 30 years."

    Erickson's report recommended guidlines for dealing with the program in the future, such as protecting the public safety and enhancing accountability.

    Quinn added two new officials at the department -- a chief public safety officer and a liaison to the governor's office -- to help prevent further problems and overhaul the agency.

    The new report calls for that public safety officer, rather than the director, to control any future programs offering time off for good behavior.

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady blasted Quinn for skipping the presentation of the report in Springfield. He called
    it "a dangerous abdication of responsibility" for Quinn not to deliver the results of the report himself.

    Quinn said he was busy at the Illinois State Fair and then at an event with veterans.