Illinois to release some incapacitated or terminally ill prisoners

State News

FILE – In this Friday, July 13, 2018 file photo, inmates pass the time within their cell block at the Twin Falls County Jail in Twin Falls, Idaho. In March 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus and its lingering threat has become a potential “get out of jail card” for inmates who argue it’s not a matter of if but when the deadly illness sweeps through tightly packed populations behind bars. (Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)

CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Friday which would allow for the release of incapacitated or terminally ill prisoners from incarceration.

HB 3665 allows for the discretionary early release of those who are medically incapacitated or terminally ill who are serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“This is another step toward the world, the Illinois, our families deserve. And I’m proud to turn it into law today,” Pritzker said.

“This bill creates policy that honors people’s humanity while at the same time prioritizing public safety,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “I am proud that Illinois is leading with compassion and bringing a restorative justice lens to criminal justice policy making.”

Currently, the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) determines conditions of parole and notifies victims and families when an inmate will be released from custody. The board also makes recommendations for clemency petitions to the Governor. This legislation gives the PRB the authority to grant or deny a prisoner early release based on their medical incapacity or terminal illness. In cases of medical incapacity, individuals may not be terminally ill, but in a state that renders them no longer a threat to the community.

The legislation was named after Joe Coleman, a father, decorated veteran, and active member in his community who had terminal cancer. While he was awaiting a decision on clemency, he passed away alone in prison, though he did not pose a risk to the public. HB 3665 not only provides better, more compassionate care to Illinois’ seriously ill population, but helps improve the overall prison healthcare system.

The law becomes effective January 1st, 2022.

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