Illinois prisons

Cap On Prison Phone Call Costs Signed Into Law

Aug 23, 2016

A new law capping the cost of prison phone calls is one way Illinois can take on criminal justice reform, according to State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Champaign.

She sponsored the measure signed Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, capping the charge for calls to inmates at 7 cents per minute -- less than half the current average rate. 

Ammons’ bill is one of five Rauner signed Monday at an adult transition center in Chicago.  There, she told the story of a woman who couldn’t call her parents while they were incarcerated.  

WUIS

Members of the Illinois House Friday voted 65 to 37 to set a floor for the number of state employees providing health care in state prisons.  

Representative Greg Harris -- a Chicago Democrat -- says Illinois can't afford to reduce what is already inadequate health care.

"There have been numerous lawsuits and some class action cases regarding both physical and behavioral health for the Dept. of Corrections," Harris said.

The state prison system is opposed.

Illinois contracts with a private company – Wexford -- to provide health care to prisoners.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A pair of Illinois lawmaker are trying to stop the state from suing former prisoners to to pay for their own incarceration.

Right now, the state of Illinois sues about 10 former inmates a year.

CASSIDY: It’s morally repugnant, it’s just, it’s wrong.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy is sponsoring a new bill to prohibit the Illinois Department of Corrections from trying to get money from former inmates.

CASSIDY: It’s also counterproductive. We know any barrier to re-entry is a path to recidivism.

Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the state's prison population by 25 percent in the next ten years.  

But the state's budget impasse is putting ex-offenders at greater risk of returning to prison.

Adult Redeploy Illinois saves taxpayers money by paying local governments to provide services that keep people out of prison. But one county's program has shut down, and more may follow.

Latanya Hill ran the now-shuttered program in Kane County for defendants with histories of violating their probation.  

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the number of inmates in Illinois' overcrowded prison system over the next decade.

And it's an area where he's willing to devote money at a time when he's urging lawmakers to be prudent with spending in other places.

Reforming the state's criminal justice system presents the first-term Republican governor with a rare opportunity to find agreement with legislators.

Rauner's first year in office has been defined by a budget stalemate with lawmakers now in its seventh month.

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