Friday, October 29, 2010

Republicans: Quinn misleads with early release ad

By Jamey Dunn

Republicans are crying foul over the early release of some prisoners after Gov. Pat Quinn said he suspended the controversial Meritorious Good Time program. However, a report issued yesterday says their claims are unfounded.

Quinn drew heat after the Department of Correction’s “Meritorious Good Time Push [MGT Push]” program made news. The plan suspended a longstanding policy that required prisoners to wait 60 days before they received any “good time” credits that would shorten their sentences. The new policy, applied to the statutory Meritorious Good Time program, allowed some prisoners to be released after only serving weeks of their sentences.

Once the policy became a public scandal, Quinn terminated the practice of waiving the waiting period, which was referred to as the “push,” and suspended the Meritorious Good Time Program. Since that time more than 2,000 prisoners have been released with “good time” credits, and Republicans say Quinn’s claims that the programs have stopped are misleading.

However, a report issued yesterday by the Northwestern University School of Law says Quinn followed the law by releasing those prisoners, who received their credits before the program was stopped. The report calls the Republicans claims “trumped up allegations.” From the report:

Governor Quinn was accused of lying for not having attempted the impossible: retroactively revoking “good time” credits from all prisoners to whom they had been awarded prior to January 15, 2010.

Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Republican from Hinsdale, said the real problem is that Quinn is not being up front with the public by running a campaign ad claiming he stopped the program “cold,” which Dillard said “lets people think that early release is no longer taking place in any fashion.”

Dillard added: “Gov. Quinn misleads the public in his ad. And he has released thousands of additional early releases. … We still have thousands of people pouring out on the streets.”

Sharyn Elman, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said the Republicans are the ones warping public perception by implying the “MGT Push” program is still active. She said the state has to honor credits awarded under the standard “good time” program before its suspension and calls the Republican complaints “fear mongering.”

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