Inmate Released Early Accused Of Murder
The Associated Press has learned the suspect in a Decatur murder is one of 1,600 Illinois inmates released early as part of the state's revamped good-behavior release program.
Joshua A. Jones is in the Macon County Jail after he was arrested on suspicion of murder for the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Marvin E. Perry on Aug. 17.
Jones served 19 months of a four-year sentence for drug-dealing and left prison May 3, five months early.
Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says the rules were followed. It was the 28-year-old's first time in prison.
A top Illinois House member wants to make sure the Department of Corrections followed its own rules in granting Perry early release.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says “there's no fail-safe'' in releasing prison inmates. The Chicago Democrat says even non-violent former prisoners can pick up a gun after returning to the street.
A revised early release plan started last spring.
Gov. Pat Quinn shut down a similar one three years ago after hundreds of violent prisoners were quietly let go within days of arriving at prison.
Currie sponsored the 2012 legislative revamp of early release. She plans to look into the Jones case.
East Central Illinois Republicans say Governor Pat Quinn is lying when saying that the early release of prisoners has been 'stopped cold.'
Mahomet State Representative Chapin Rose said the governor's latest campaign ads are misleading. He cites the Department of Corrections data that indicates more than 2,000 prisoners, including violent offenders, that have been set free since July.
"The day his ads began to run, that very day they released (someone convicted of) aggravated unlawful use of a weapon," Rose said. "There's a murderer in here. Aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Battery of a pregnant person. Numerous firearms offenses. All let out since (Quinn) told the people he stopped the program."
In July, a bill sponsored by Senator and gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) went into effect requiring the Department of Corrections to require public notification of the prisoners granted Meritorious Good Time Release.
Early this year, Governor Quinn did away with a program called MGT Push, but also suspended all other early release programs. Sharyn Elman, a spokeswoman for Illinois' Department of Corrections, called the accusations "completely false and political posturing."
"The Governor terminated MGT Push as of December of 2009 and no prisoners have been released under MGT Push," Elman said. "MGT was suspended in January of 2010, and no awards have been granted since that time."
Rose noted while the programs are technically over, the state has not revoked the good-time credit of prisoners who earned it, and that is why some prisoners are still being set free. He said Governor Quinn is relying on semantics and not awarding any new credit to prisoners in order to claim the programs have been suspended or shut down.
Governor Pat Quinn says a secret policy change that allowed some well-behaved criminals to leave prison after fewer than three weeks behind bars was a mistake. But he says given the state's budget woes, Illinois' prison system has been forced to economize.
The governor called the accelerated early release of inmates ... some of whom were violent offenders ... "bad judgment." And Quinn says he never gave Corrections Director Michael Randle the authority to do it.
Yet Quinn also seemed to downplay the gravity of the situation. He says each of the 1700 inmates released early on meritorious good time would have been out of prison by the end of January anyway.
"We should not in any way, I think, miss the point that there are literally thousands of people coming into our prison system for a very short period of time", said Quinn.
Quinn says that because the state corrections budget was slashed, Randle was put in the challenging position of finding savings. The governor says Randle will keep his job as director, but he has terminated the program. His opponent in the Democratic primary race for governor, Comptroller Dan Hynes, calls Quinn's acknowledgment "inadequate" and "lame.