Legislation offers potential path to freedom for Illinois prisoners serving long sentences

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 1:09 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (25 News Now) - Anyone who has served 20 or more years in prison would have the chance to reenter society under a bill proposed by a Democratic state lawmaker.

Illinois is one of only 16 states that doesn’t have a way to review long sentences on a prisoner’s behalf, but State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) said the Prisoner Review Board should determine if those behind bars for long sentences have earned the opportunity to be released.

“This bill provides a much-needed escape valve that can safely and fairly return people who have earned their release back to their communities once they’ve done work while inside to better their lives and make clear that they are ready to rejoin society,” said Sarah Staudt, director of policy for the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts.

The bill passed out of a Democratic-controlled committee on a 10-5 vote, but more work is being done on the legislation before it goes back to the committee.

If the bill becomes law, not everyone who has served more than 20 years would be immediately eligible to go before the Prisoner Review Board. Prisoners will be phased-in based on how much time they’ve served.