But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners
Just as a bicycle works best when it uses different gears based on the terrain, we need a justice system that has different responses for different situations—shifting gears to treatment, prevention, and long-term public safety solutions as appropriate. By taking a practical approach to criminal justice reform, we can decrease crime, enhance public safety, and make more responsible use of our resources.
39% of Prisoners Should Not Be in Prison | Time
Class 4 felony sentences range from one to three years, with the majority of Class 4 felony offenders being admitted on a property or drug offense. Although Class 4 is the least severe felony class in Illinois, Class 4 admissions typically have more extensive criminal histories and higher recidivism rates. When entering an IDOC facility on a new sentence, a Class 4 offender will have an average of 17 arrests. Nearly 75 percent will have at least one prior violent arrest on their record as well as a prior probation sentence and 60 percent having at least one prior admission for a crime against a person. Due to relatively short sentences and eligibility for jail and sentence credits, Class 4 offenders typically spend less than a year in prison; roughly half spend 6 months or less. This can be problematic for corrections-based programming that has better results for those in programming longer.
The distribution of Illinois court sentence dispositions, shown in Figure 7, differs for misdemeanors and felonies. The prison population does not include misdemeanants, but the distribution of misdemeanor sentences may be important if offenses that are currently felonies are reclassified. Probation and supervision make up one-third of all felony dispositions and almost two-thirds of all misdemeanor dispositions. Incarceration in either jail or prison composes almost half of all felony dispositions and 16 percent of all misdemeanor dispositions.
U.S. Prison Population Drops for Third Year in a Row
In 2013, 45 percent of Illinois prisoners were incarcerated for a violent offense, which varied by gender. Almost half of male offenders were in prison for a violent crime (45 percent) compared to 34 percent of female offenders. About 20 percent of male and females were in prison for property and drug crimes. Few male offenders were in prison for a property (19 percent) or drug crime (21 percent). However, a larger percentage of female offenders were in prison for a property crime (30 percent) or drug crime (29 percent). Small number of men and women were in prison for a sex crime, 13 percent and 3 percent respectively.
NAACP | Criminal Justice Fact Sheet
Actual time served by offenders in Class 4 through Class 1 felony offense categories that exited (excluding technical violators and any additional time served due to technical violations) show similar patterns since 1989 (Figure 14). A large increase in time served occurred in recent years due to the suspension of awarding meritorious and supplemental meritorious good conduct credits in 2009. This effectively added several months of incarceration for inmates who would previously have been allowed such credits and increased the size of the prison population.
Statistics on the prison population
The 2013 demographic and offense characteristics of the Illinois prison population and state population are compared in Figure 2. The Illinois prison population was primarily male. Women accounted for 6 percent of the prison population but half of the Illinois general population. Almost 60 percent of the prison population were Black compared to 15 percent of the general population. And while nearly 65 percent of the general population is White, Whites made up less than 30 percent of the prison population. Geographically, half of all inmates were sent to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) from Cook County. Twelve percent were from the Collar counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, and 21 percent were from other urban counties in the state. Only 17 percent of offenders in prison in December 2013 were from rural counties.
African Americans & Crime Stopped, Searched, & Arrested
Data on IDOC admissions, prison population, length of stay, and budget are from SPAC and ICJIA analyses of data provided by the IDOC Planning and Research Unit as well as IDOC statistical reports and correspondence with IDOC officials. I-UCR offense and arrest data are from Crime in Illinois reports and data published by the Illinois State Police. Data on felony filings is from annual reports published by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. Felony sentences in Figure 5 and 6 are also from these reports. Felony sentence dispositions in Figure 7 are from SPAC and ICJIA analysis of electronic criminal history data from the Illinois State Police.