Changes in Sentencing Laws in Illinois’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill

A family man who owns a restaurant in Schaumburg is facing serious criminal charges. The evidence against him is extensive, and he is concerned that he will receive a guilty verdict if he goes to court. His lawyer makes him aware that he could be eligible for alternative sentencing under Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law. He may be able to decrease his sentence by earning supplemental sentence credits.

Court Reforms in the Illinois Police Reform Laws

Under Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law, judges have the authority to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing and choose to implement alternative sentencing. The new law allows a judge to impose penalties other than a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment, such as:

  • Conditional discharge
  • Probation
  • A lesser form of imprisonment if the offense involves the use or possession of drugs, driving on a revoked license due to unpaid fees, or retail theft

To reduce a mandatory minimum prison sentence, the court must find that the defendant does not pose a risk to public safety. Judges also need to find that the interest of justice requires imposing a term of probation, conditional discharge, or a lesser term of imprisonment. In addition to modernizing earned sentence credits, the law also shortens the amount of mandatory supervised release times for certain types of non-violent offenses.

Earning Sentence Credits

The new criminal justice reform bill also amends the Unified Code of Corrections to allow the Illinois Department of Corrections Director to award earned supplemental sentence credit. A sentence credit is a period of time that the Director of the Department of Corrections will subtract from the defendant’s sentence when an offender has demonstrated good conduct.

According to changes in the new law, the Director can award up to 180 days of an earned sentence credit for prisoners who are servicing a prison sentence of fewer than five years. For prisoners servicing a five-year or longer sentence, the Director can award an earned sentence credit of up to 356 days. Before the changes in the reform law, the Director could only award up to 180 days of earned sentence credit for any prison sentence term.

Proponents of this change contend that extending the length of sentencing credits will encourage suspects to engage in good behavior while in custody. Now, prisoners can earn sentence credits for participating in the following programs:

  • Correctional industry assignments
  • Educational programs
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Work-release programs
  • Behavior modification programs
  • Life skills courses
  • Self-Improvement programs
  • Volunteer work
  • Work assignments
  • Re-entry planning
  • Obtaining an associates degree while in prison

Contact a Schaumburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. If you are facing criminal charges, trust our skilled attorneys to build a strong defense for you. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

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