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Quinn Suspends Second Early Release Program

By Prescott Carlson in News on Jan 6, 2010 10:00PM

Starting to feel scorched from the political heat, Gov. Pat Quinn announced today that he was suspending a second Illinois prison early release program, this one involving 1,000 nonviolent criminals. The early release programs were put in place to attempt to save on the state's bottom line.

Last month, Quinn suspended the decidedly more controversial "MGT Push" program, which AP reported routinely ignored the rule that inmates serve a minimum of 61 days in prison, with the shortest prison stint being 18 days, by awarding inmates "discretionary good-conduct credit." He permanently discontinued it last week. The reporting of Quinn's current announcement comes just as the Sun-Times reports of 21 criminals released under the program that had been previously convicted on murder-related charges, and even hard left-leaning Trib columnist Eric Zorn has come out for tougher sentencing laws. Certainly Quinn knew he was handing his political opponents campaign commercials on a silver platter.

And in fact, that's exactly what happened. In challenger Dan Hynes most recent campaign commercial, a voice-over says it's an "outrage" that Quinn tried to "release 1,700 dangerous criminals to try and save money." Quinn responded in an emailed statement accusing Hynes of sleazy politics:

This misleading Willie Horton-style ad hearkens back to campaigns of years past that exploited the fears and prejudices of American voters. We had hoped that, with the election of President Barack Obama, such politically motivated fear-mongering was behind us all. Sadly, that has not proven to be the case.

The nonviolent offenders early release program has been suspended until further review by a not-yet-appointed chief public safety officer at the Illinois Department of Corrections.