Skip to content

Twenty-one Full Time County Chief Public Defenders Support HB 531

We, the full time Chief Public Defenders of our respective Counties, support the passage of HB 531 (SA 1). It has been forty (40) years since the General Assembly instituted...

We, the full time Chief Public Defenders of our respective Counties, support the passage of HB 531 (SA 1). It has been forty (40) years since the General Assembly instituted determinate sentencing by abolishing parole in the State of Illinois. It is time to bring parole back. HB 531 (SA 1) does just that for youthful offenders – those under twenty-one (21) years of age at the time of the offense and sentenced to a lengthy term of incarceration within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).

During the course of our careers, each of our offices has represented a youthful offender facing a lengthy sentence in the DOC. At the sentencing hearing, we have presented facts for the judges to take into account when imposing the sentence. However, in the cases of young offenders, no individual judge can know what the young person standing before the bench will be like ten (10), twenty (20), or thirty (30) years later.

HB 531 (SA1) holds young people accountable for their actions while still allowing them a chance to demonstrate that their incarceration no longer serves the State’s interests. Considering whether young offenders should be released, HB 531 (SA 1) ensures that the concerns of victims are taken into account. HB 531 (SA 1) also requires a period of mandatory supervised release (MSR), which in many cases is a longer period of MSR than that currently imposed on individuals released from IDOC after the young person has completed his/her term of incarceration.

With HB 531 (SA 1)’s passage, Illinois will join the vast majority of states in this country which allow incarcerated individuals to show their incarceration no longer serves the public’s interests. It will save Illinois money by ending the State’s financial obligation of housing and caring for incarcerated individuals when incarceration is no longer necessary. And we believe the possibility of parole will make the environment within IDOC facilities safer as there will be an additional incentive for incarcerated individuals to comply with IDOC’s rules and regulations.

HB 531 (SA 1) is good public policy. It allows Illinois to be tough on crime while being smart on crime. It allows for the sentencing review of an individual judge’s decision for young people – those most capable of growth, rehabilitation, and transformation. The reinstatement of parole is a reform long overdue. We urge you to vote “Yes” when HB 531 (SA 1) comes up for your consideration.

Kelly Childress, Kane County
Baron Heintz, Rock Island County
Carla Barnes, McLean County
Thomas Piper, Morgan and Greene Counties
Robert Scherschligt, Sangamon County
Gerald Kielian, Will County
Gary Dobbs, Grundy County
Luke Taylor, Tazewell County
Amy Campanelli, Cook County
Jeff York, DuPage County
Patrick Duffy, Pulaski County
Alan McIntyre, Johnson County
Tyler Tripp, Union County
Scott Quinn, Jefferson County
Todd Nelson, Adams County
Thomas McColloch, DeKalb County
Victoria Chuffo, Kendall County
David Ellison, Macon County
Mark Cook, McHenry County
Joy Gossman, Lake County