Panel gives last recommendations to reduce overcrowded prisons

In Illinois’ current poisonous political environment, one topic that has consistently brought both sides of the aisle to the table is the need to reduce the prison population.

The Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform — the governor’s panel aiming to reform the state’s overcrowded prison system — gave its final 13 recommendations to reduce repeat offenses, identify racial profiling, lower punishment times for non-violent crimes and give treatment to the mentally ill and drug addicted.

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Loves Park, sat on the panel. He said catching addiction and mental illness beforehand will result in major savings.

“If we can catch people early enough and break the cycle, that can result in some major savings for the taxpayer,” he said.

Also a police officer of nearly 20 years, Cabello said there needs to be more discretion from the courts on veterans and people with mental illness.

“A judge can order somebody to get help,” he said, “whereas a law enforcement officer can’t.”

Cabello stressed that any reforms have to have public safety in the forefront.

“We’ve got to make sure that we keep the victims of crime at the forefront of any reforms that we do to make sure they’re not victimized twice,” he said.

Illinois’ prison system is operating at approximately 150 percent more prisoners than the system was designed to hold. Illinois currently houses approximately 43 thousand inmates, almost half of which are in for non-violent offenses.

According to a report by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, it costs more than $118,000 to jail someone in Illinois when considering the cost of incarceration, cost borne by victims and the lost economic activity.

–Illinois News Network

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