No Trick: Illinois Set to Release 1,000 Inmates

More than 45,000 inmates are in Illinois prisons, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion a year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images/Thinkstock
    About 1,000 inmates could go free in the next few weeks.

    And now for something truly scary.

    Halloween has arrived, and the Illinois legislature is providing residents with their biggest shrieks of the season.

    The state government hopes save millions of dollars by releasing about 1,000 prisoners during the next few weeks, and some nonviolent inmates will be released up to a year early.

    But some police, prosecutors and crime victims oppose the plan. And the Chicago Tribune reported Friday that Gov. Pat Quinn's administration has declined to release a list of inmates or their offenses, saying the list isn't final yet.

    The inmates will live with friends or family and wear electronic ankle bracelets that allow authorities to monitor them. Most of the offenders will be released to homes in Cook County.

    State officials said they'll release only nonviolent drug and property crime offenders. To be eligible, prisoners must have no previous parole violations and no outstanding warrants or orders of protection out against them.

    Foes of the plan fear the worst. Dora Larson of Will County is a victims advocate whose daughter was raped and murdered by a prisoner on parole.

    "When offenders are behind bars, they can't victimize the community," Larson said.

    "They've done their best to eliminate violent offenders, but someone is bound to commit murder, armed robbery or rape," said Loyola University Chicago's David Olson, a professor of criminal justice serving on a state prison advisory board. "It won't do the victim any good to say this was bound to happen even if the person got out one year later."

    More than 45,000 inmates are in Illinois prisons, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion a year.

    Officials said the prisoners eligible for early release will have a better chance of rehabilitation in the community.

    "This is not just an opportunity to save some money but also to deal with crime more effectively," said state Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle.