A final roadblock to a chance at freedom for Illinois’ juvenile lifers is now gone. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that anyone sentenced to mandatory life without parole as a juvenile should be resentenced.  

ELITE Re-Entry Program graduates 5th class

Sep 11, 2014
Denise Molina-Weiger / Peoria Public Radio

A program that aims to help ex-offenders get jobs and stay out of prison graduated its fifth class Thursday. 14 people successfully got through the summer session of the ELITE Re-Entry program. The graduation ceremony took place at the Federal Court House with a speech from Judge Joe Billy McDade, a certificate presentation and music.

State panel to tackle prisoner reduction

Jul 14, 2014

A small panel of Illinois lawmakers meets this week with a lofty goal. They want to find a way to reduce the prison population, cut down on recidivism - but still enforce strict laws. Illinois Public Radio's Tony Arnold reports. 

Illinois State Representative Mike Zalewski is gathering the committee to look at the big picture on prisons. They’ll discuss overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons, and the billion dollars they cost taxpayers each year.

Mandatory minimums to be debated this week

Jul 14, 2014

A panel of Illinois state lawmakers Tuesday is scheduled to debate how long convicted criminals should spend in prison for certain crimes. IPR's Tony Arnold reports.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy frequently blames Springfield politicians for the city’s gun violence. He says nobody’s afraid of Illinois’ gun laws.

Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons part 3

Jul 9, 2014

Illinois taxpayers pay a private company more than a hundred million dollars a year to give health care to prison inmates. Yet no one in Illinois knows how good, or bad, the care is. But that will likely change soon. As part of our series “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons,” Illinois Public Radio's Robert Wildeboer reports.  

On July 28, 2012 Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois.  Two days later, he died.

Prison parolees attend state sponsored job fair

Jun 10, 2014

In Illinois, twenty-five-thousand men and women are released from state prisons each year. Ideally, that means twenty-five-thousand people entering the job market. Illinois already has higher-than-average unemployment, and a criminal record can make it even harder to find work. That's why the Illinois Department of Corrections is trying to lend a hand to ex-offenders through a series of specialized events. Illinois Public Radio's Hannah Meisel attended one Tuesday in Springfield.

Volunteers shepherd 300 ex-offenders around to dozens of booths at a building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, all of which are here to help them get to their ultimate goal: employment. This event is known as the "Summit of Hope," one of eight such events around the state planned for this year.

Health care reform could affect prison numbers

Sep 30, 2013

One possible side effect of the new health care law – fewer people behind bars. IPR’s Sean Powers reports.

Jessie Jackson Jr., wife sentenced to jail

Aug 14, 2013

Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior and his wife are both headed to prison for stealing $750,000 in campaign cash. As IPR’s Alex Keefe reports, they were sentenced Wednesday by a federal judge in Washington DC: 

240 computers missing from state prison systems

Aug 6, 2013

Illinois' auditor has found that the state's prison systems have lost 240 computers. Auditor General Bill Holland's report shows the Department of Corrections is missing 156 computers and the Department of Juvenile Justice can't locate 84 others. 

Central figure in Blago investigation sentenced to jail

Jul 31, 2013

A central figure in the Blagojevich investigation was sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in federal prison. IPR’s Robert Wildeboer reports:

ACLU joins state prison lawsuit

May 30, 2013

A lawsuit over health care in prisons in Illinois is getting a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union.  IPR’s Robert Wildeboer reports.

State frees 120 inmates on early release

May 7, 2013

The Illinois Department of Corrections has freed 120 inmates as part of a new early-release program. But the director of the department says letting more inmates out is not the answer to overcrowding in prisons. 

Concerns for Menard Correctional Center

Apr 24, 2013

An Illinois prison watchdog group says conditions are tense at Menard Correctional Center, in southern Illinois. Wednesday a man was charged with murdering his cell-mate last month. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.

That was the third inmate murder at Menard this year.The prison has more than 3,600 men well over the capacity for which it was designed. And it's a rough crowd, with more than half the inmates in for murder.John Maki, director of the prison-monitoring John Howard Association, says that combination is at the heart of Menard's long list of problems.