C# (C Numbers) are people incarcerated in Illinois before 1978, who are eligible for parole because they were convicted before Illinois abolished parole. People incarcerated before 1978 are referred to as C#s because their IDOC number--a unique identifier within the prison systems--begins with "C."
Clemency is an expansive power held by the Governor. In Illinois, the Governor has unfettered authority to modify any sentence in any way or to vacate any conviction. Clemency is not reviewable, and overrides any judicial order.
A type of clemency through which the Governor can change a sentence for a less severe one. For example, commutation of sentence can result in immediate release (e.g. commutation to time served) or change the terms of a sentence (e.g. commutation to a shorter term of years).
Also known as IDOC or DOC, the agency that is charged with housing and supervising incarcerated people in Illinois. The Department of Corrections also supervises people after their sentences are over. See Mandatory Supervised Release.
A type of sentencing credit by which people in prison can be awarded up to 180 days (for people sentenced to less than 5 years) or up to 365 days (for people sentenced to more than 5 years) off their sentence at the discretion of the Department of Corrections.
A program that allows an incarcerated person to serve a portion of their sentence at home. Under Illinois law, and depending on their underlying conviction, many people who are over the age of 55 and have less than 1 year on their sentence are eligible for electronic detention, as are many people serving a sentence for a Class 2, 3, or 4 felony. The Department of Corrections has internal policies that make fewer people eligible for electronic detention.
Sentencing credit that is automatically earned by incarcerated people in Illinois. The amount of good conduct credit one can earn depends on the offense of conviction and the date of the offense (see Sentencing Credit Explainer). Good conduct credit can be revoked by the Department for disciplinary infractions.
Law that provide allows the prosecutor to seek a mandatory life sentence after a person has been convicted of their third Class X offense.
An alternative to custody where a person is allowed to serve their prison sentence through confinement in their home or a host site. Home confinement is often a condition of medical furlough and other Department programs.
Legislative provisions that establish the shortest possible prison term to which a judge may sentence a person convicted of a particular crime.
A period of supervision that follows a prison sentence in Illinois. People on supervised release are required to follow conditions like electronic monitoring, drug testing, and program participation. Although MSR is often called “parole,” they are different: parole is a system for early release, while MSR is a period of supervision that is served after the prison sentence is over.
Temporary release from the Department of Corrections for people with serious or terminal illnesses. This new program was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is very rarely used.
A new law that allows the Prisoner Review Board to release people from prison who are terminally ill or medically incapacitated. Illinois' medical release law has passed through the Legislature but has not yet been signed into law by the Governor.
A type of clemency which voids a conviction. See “Clemency.”
A system that allows for the early release of a person from prison before the end of the sentence, on condition that the person follows specific rules, such as reporting to a parole officer and avoiding prohibited conduct. Illinois abolished parole in 1978—-for that reason, most people convicted after 1978 are not eligible for parole in Illinois. Supervision at the end of a prison sentence is Mandatory Supervised Release, not parole. See “Mandatory Supervised Release.”
Sometimes called the “Parole Board,” the PRB is an independent agency that manages clemency applications, makes determinations about medical release requests, hears allegations that people on MSR have violated the terms of their releases, and makes decisions at parole hearings for people convicted before 1978. The Board also makes nonbinding, confidential recommendations to the Governor on clemency petitions.
An alternative to incarceration, probationary sentences require that a person follow a set of strict guidelines for a specific period of time. Conditions often include electronic monitoring, education or work requirements, drug testing, specific programs, and curfews.
A type of sentencing credit based on participation in vocational or rehabilitative programs. Beginning on July 1, 2021, incarcerated people will be eligible to receive programming credit for additional activities like job assignments and volunteer programs.
A model of conflict resolution often used in the criminal legal setting as an alternative to an adversarial legal process that focuses on bringing all parties of a conflict together to repair harm and encourage reconciliation
Laws that require a convicted person to serve all, or at least a substantial portion, of the prison sentence that he/she receives. In Illinois, Truth in Sentencing laws restrict the amount of sentencing credit a person can earn.
In May, the Illinois State Legislature passed HB3665, a bill that creates medical release for the first time in Illinois. Under the new law, called the Joe Coleman Act after a dear IPP client, the Prisoner Review Board has the authority to release terminally ill or medically incapacitated people from their prison sentences. This bill has not yet been signed into law by the Governor. We do not know when the bill will be signed into law.
The medical release law is an additional mechanism for release, and does not prevent an incarcerated person from seeking other forms of relief, including clemency, resentencing, or post-conviction relief.
People will be eligible for medical release if they are medically incapacitated or have been diagnosed with a condition that will cause medical incapacitation in the next 6 months, or if they have a terminal illness.
A person is medically incapacitated if they been diagnosed with a medical condition that prevents them from completing more than one activity of daily living (like bathing, dressing, or mobility) without assistance or disables them to the point that prison does not create any additional restrictions (meaning that the person is so disabled that their life would be the same inside or outside of prison). The person is only eligible if the medical condition is unlikely to improve noticeably in the future, and if the injury or illness that caused medical incapacitation occurred after sentencing. This definition includes cognitive conditions like dementia.
A terminal illness is a condition is irreversible and incurable and, based on an individual assessment by a doctor, likely to cause death to the inmate within 18 months.
Under the new law, an initial application for medical release must be filed with the Prisoner Review Board. Applications will be maintained on the Prisoner Review Board's website, the Department of Corrections' website, and in the law library and the infirmary of every prison in Illinois.
An initial application can be filed by almost anyone, including prison official, a medical professional who has treated or diagnosed the incarcerated person, or the incarcerated person’s spouse, parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling, child over the age of eighteen years, or attorney.
If the incarcerated person does not file the initial application themselves, they must consent to the process. If the incarcerated person is medically unable to consent, the guardian or family member designated to represent their interests must consent to the application.
The initial application can be sent by email or fax. It does not need to be notarized. It must contain: a) the incarcerated person’s name and IDOC number, b) their diagnosis, c) a statement that the incarcerated person is either suffering from a terminal illness, been diagnosed with a condition that will result in medical incapacity within the next 6 months, or has become medically incapacitated subsequent to sentencing due to illness or injury.
Once the Prisoner Review Board receives an initial application, it shall order the Department of Corrections to have a medical practitioner conduct an evaluation and write a report within ten days. The evaluation must include (i) a short statement of the medical diagnosis, including prognosis, likelihood of recovery, and primary symptoms, to include incapacitation; and (ii) a statement confirming or denying that the incarcerated person meets one of the eligibility criteria (i.e. medical incapacitation or terminal illness).
The Prisoner Review Board does not have to hold a public hearing to consider a petition, but the incarcerated person can request a hearing, and the Board must grant that request. If a hearing is requested, the incarcerated person may be represented by an attorney and may present witnesses to the Board members.
Petitions will be considered by a three-member of the Prisoner Review Board, and decisions shall be made by a simple majority. The Prisoner Review Board may consider the following factors:
1) the diagnosis and likelihood of recovery
2) the approximate cost of health care to the State should the incarcerated person remain in custody
3) the impact that continued incarceration may have on the provision of medical care within the Department;
4) the present likelihood of and ability to pose a substantial danger to the physical safety of a specifically identifiable person or persons
5) any statements by the victim regarding release
6) whether the inmate's condition was explicitly disclosed to the original sentencing judge and taken into account at the time of sentencing.
The Prisoner Review Board must make a decision within 90 days of receiving an application.
Incarcerated people granted medical release shall be released on mandatory supervised release for a period of five years, unless the underlying sentence and original mandatory supervised release term were less than five years.
Electronic Detention is a program, newly implemented by the Department of Corrections, that allows people to serve their prison sentences at home. As a general matter, people who are released through the Electronic Detention program are required to wear an ankle monitor and have their movements regulated.
Eligibility for electronic detention is spelled out in 730 ILCS 5/5-8A-3 and in the Department’s Administrative Order 04.45.100. This Administrative Directive outlines who is eligible to participate in the program and who is ineligible. It also describes the screening process and the terms of participation.
Illinois law makes incarcerated people eligible for electronic detention in two ways: 1) eligibility by offense level, and 2) eligibility based on age. They have slightly different requirements, so please check both! A person can be ineligible for electronic detention based on their offense level but still be eligible based on age.
No one is eligible for electronic detention based on offense level if they have been convicted of:
People older the age of 55 years who are serving a term of years, who have served at least 25% of his or her sentenced prison term are eligible for electronic detention for the last 12 months of their sentence
No one is eligible for electronic detention based on age if they have been convicted of:
The Department of Corrections has begun screening people who might be eligible for release onto electronic detention. When screening an incarcerated person, they consider the following factors: When reviewing whether a person should be approved for the electronic detention program, DOC must consider:
Eligibility shall not be denied solely on those factors. Other factors that are considered include:
According to DOC policies, Electronic Detention comes with conditions. First, people on electronic monitoring must wear or carry a monitoring device. For that device to work, people on electronic monitoring may need a working telephone at their home.
People on electronic monitoring must remain at home, unless otherwise approved. DOC guidelines require that movement is approved by the Department, generally through a “parole officer.” Such instances of approved absences from the home may include, but are not limited to:
If a person is accused of violating the rules of the Electronic Detention Program, they are entitled to a hearing. People who are found to have violated the rules of the program will be returned to prison to serve the remainder of his or her sentence.
At the end of the sentence, a person on electronic detention will be put onto Mandatory Supervised Release, just as they would be had they been in prison for the entire sentence.
In the spring of 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2129, a measure that gives state’s attorneys the authority to bring cases back into court for resentencing, no matter when the original sentence was imposed. Called “Motion to Resentence by the People,” the law creates political opportunities for prosecutors to address unjust and excessive sentences.
Importantly, it does not entitle anyone in prison to resentencing or even have their sentences reviewed. Rather, the law creates a mechanism for the court to consider resentencing requests made by state’s attorneys.
The State’s Attorney Office in the county where a person was originally convicted and sentenced has complete and total authority to determine who is eligible for resentencing. The state’s attorney’s decision to seek — or not to seek — resentencing is not reviewable by any other agency or actor.
Presumably, each state’s attorney will create a process for reviewing cases for potential resentencing. At this point, we do not know of any office that has created such a process.
It’s not clear yet. Under a rarely used provision in Illinois law, state’s attorney offices already had the ability to seek a new sentence through a doctrine called revestment. Under the revestment doctrine, a judge can revisit an old order (like a sentencing order) if three conditions are met. First, both parties must participate in the proceedings; second, neither party can object to the proceedings, and third, the parties must ask for a different outcome than the prior order. In a resentencing, that means both the incarcerated people and the state’s attorney must participate in the hearing, neither party can object to the resentencing request, and the parties must ask for a different—presumably shorter—sentence.
Despite its ease, the revestment doctrine is rarely used, as state’s attorneys rarely agree to participate in, and not object to, the process. Their reluctance might be because the doctrine is not codified into law. Although the resentencing law does not make the process logistically easier, we are hopeful that state’s attorneys will be more willing to use the mechanism now that it has been passed by the legislature.
(a) The purpose of sentencing is to advance public safety through punishment, rehabilitation, and restorative justice. By providing a means to reevaluate a sentence after some time has passed, the General Assembly intends to provide the State's Attorney and the court with another tool to ensure that these purposes are achieved.
(b) At any time upon the recommendation of the State's Attorney of the county in which the defendant was sentenced, the State's Attorney may petition the sentencing court or the sentencing court's successor to resentence the offender if the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice. The sentencing court or the sentencing court's successor may resentence the offender if it finds that the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice.
(c) Upon the receipt of a petition for resentencing, the court may resentence the defendant in the same manner as if the offender had not previously been sentenced; however, the new sentence, if any, may not be greater than the initial sentence.
(d) The court may consider postconviction factors, including, but not limited to, the inmate's disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated; evidence that reflects whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the inmate's risk for future violence; and evidence that reflects changed circumstances since the inmate's original sentencing such that the inmate's continued incarceration no longer serves the interests of justice. Credit shall be given for time served.
(e) Victims shall be afforded all rights as outlined in the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act.
(f) A resentencing under this Section shall not reopen the defendant's conviction to challenges that would otherwise be barred.
(g) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to limit the power of the Governor under the Constitution to grant a reprieve, commutation of sentence, or pardon.