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Elder Parole Legislation Introduced in Illinois House of Representatives

On February 17, 2021, House Bill 2399 was introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives by Representative Anne Stava-Murray.

The new Bill would establish the right to apply for parole for older individuals with significant time in prison, and others who have also served a lengthy period of time. The Bill has been referred to the Rules Committee.

This Bill, if enacted, would establish a right to apply for parole to (1) individuals who are 60 years of age or older and have served at least 20 consecutive years in prison, and (2) individuals who have served at least 25 consecutive years regardless of age. A person seeking parole would be required to submit, to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, a petition for parole, including specified information, such as documentation of rehabilitation, character references and community support, participation in prison programs intended to prepare the person for release, disciplinary history while incarcerated, and plans for housing if release were granted. Victims’ families would be notified and given an opportunity to participate in the parole hearing. The Prisoner Review Board would then conduct a hearing and decide, by majority vote of the panel hearing the case, whether to grant release.

If enacted, the Bill would re-establish the right to apply for discretionary parole, which was abolished in Illinois in 1978.

The new parole process would apply to a group of persons who are estimated to comprise about 6.5% of the Illinois prison population, and who, as a result of their age, are statistically less likely than the general prison population to commit additional crimes after release.

Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Senator Robert Peters during the current session.

Photo: Gavel and Book with Copy Space on Table by Towfiqu barbhuiya

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