Illinois is one of only a few states that does not have parole- a system in which of programming (i.e. counseling and educational and vocational training) is instituted to correct and/or re-adjust the attitude, thinking, behavior and overall mentality of an incarcerated-person in order to restore him/her for the purposes of useful employment and successful integration into society.
Instead, Illinois has a determinate sentencing scheme in which an offender, convicted of an offense, is given a sentence that he/she will either serve 50%,85% or 100% of their sentence depending on the type of offense committed.
This has led to lengthier sentences being both issued and served, which also had contributed to the rapid increase and overcrowding of the states prison population.
Please do not mistake our intent. This call for rehabilitation is about holding I.D.O.C. accountable to the declarations of their mission statement, as well as the assured enforcement of the grantees afforded to all offenders and incarcerated-persons be Article 1 Section 11of the Illinois Constitution.
So, let us first consult I.D.O.C.’s mission statement: The mission of the Department of Corrections is to protect the public from criminal offenders through a system of incarceration and supervision which securely segregates offenders from society, assures offenders of their constitutional rights and maintains programs to enhance the success of offenders’ re-entry into society. The I.D.O.C. mission statement vows to do 3 things:
1: Protect the public
2: Assure offenders of their constitutional rights
3: Maintain programs to enhance the access of offenders’ re-entry into society
Keep this in mind because we will return to complete the consultation.
Allow me to direct your attention to Article 1 Section 11 of the Illinois Constitution-LIMITATION OF PENALTIES AFTER CONVICTION: “All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the penalty and with the objectively restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”
This provision of Art. 1 Sec. 11 is actually broken down into 2 clauses. The first is the Proportionate Penalties Clause, which entails a determining of the penalty according to the seriousness of the offense; and the second, the Rehabilitation Clause, that involves determining a penalty with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship This not only connotes rehabilitation but also, with the exception of those rare cases, re-integration. To support this claim I refer to Delegate Foster’s remarks from the South Illinois Constitutional Convention, June 2nd, 1970, where he states, “I would hope…at least some emphasis would have to be placed on rehabilitation under this provision. ” Foster goes on to say,”…the purpose of this amendment is to clarify the constitutional language with regard to penalties. Traditionally, the constitution has stated that a penalty should be proportionate to the nature of the offense. I feel with all we’ve learned about penology that somewhere along the line, we ought to inchoate that in addition to looking to the act that the person committed, we should also look at the person who committed the act and determine to what extent he can be restored to useful citizenship. I think that if the offense were considered so overwhelmingly outrageous that the General Assembly wanted to impose the death penalty, I think that could do so. But if they wanted to impose something less than the death penalty, then I think the judge would be required to consider the use of parole, probation and it would even go to what we did in our prisons, in terms of having people learn something more useful than making license plates.”
Sounds like rehabilitation and re-integration to me. A keyword in Art. 1 Sec. 11 is determined. According to Webster’s 4th edition Collegiate Dictionary, the (3.) definition of determining is – to reach a decision about afterthought and investigation; decide upon.
From a legal standpoint, anytime a matter is determined or decided upon there is a complementary requirement of the due process included, which is a guarantee of Art. 1 Sec. 2 of the Illinois Constitution and the 14th Amendment on the U.S. Constitution.
The due process itself has 2 components. A substantive and a procedural. Our focal point will be procedural. The procedural due process requires the government to provide fair procedure before life, liberty or property can be taken away.
In a procedural due process claim, it’s not the deprivation without due process, i.e. without the adequate procedure, that’s unconstitutional. The fact that Illinois no longer implements a parole system, but instead utilizes determinate sentencing, evince that neither the Department of Corrections nor the judicial system has in place an adequate procedure to determine to what extent the offender can be restored to useful citizenship. Which according to Art. 1 Sec. 11 of the Illinois Constitution, is a requirement that must be met.
The question becomes, upon whom does this onus fall? The Illinois Constitution is the supreme law of the state. It is the doctrine by which all laws and statutes receive their measure and from which they are granted binding force.
So, if it is a judge’s mandate, after conviction, to weigh any aggravating and/or mitigating factors that occurred within the offense, along with the offender’s criminal background and familial upbringing succinctly recorded in a presentence investigation report, before determining a penalty within statutory limits, then the onus must fall to the governor, the legislature, as well as I.D.O.C., to secure the guarantees of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Due Process, and Equal Protection Clause of Art. 1 Sec. 2, in unison with Art. 1 Sec. 11 of the Illinois Constitution, and create a fair and adequate procedure in which to consider every incarcerated-person’s rehabilitative potential.
Now here is where we return to the consultation of the I.D.O.C. mission statement.
If you recall, I previously stated that I.D.O.C.’s mission statement vowed to do 3 things:(1) protect the public from criminal offenders through the system of incarceration and supervision which securely segregates offenders from society… Let me clarify something in order to alienate any chance of confusion. To fully grasp what the I.D.O.C. is proposing, we must get an understanding of the contextual aggregate of their statement. So what needs to be clarified is the fact that there are indeed 2 systems at work for the public’s protection. A system of incarceration and a system of supervision, which securely segregates offenders from society.
When we read the mission statement in this light, we see the possible progression from the system of incarceration to the system of supervision, as well as a warning as to the consequences for the digression from the system of supervision. This implied success or failure depends on one’s ability to not only comply with the rules and regulations of the respective system but also one’s commitment to completing the required programs. (See Vow 3 )
The second thing the mission statement has vowed to do is – assures offenders of their constitutional rights. Assure means, to declare to or promise confidently to make certain; guarantee.
The third vow – maintain programs to enhance the success of offenders re-entry into society.
Now, when we read the I.D.O.C. mission statement in congruence with Art. 1 Sec. 11 of the Illinois Constitution, we see that there is a continual examination and evaluation process that must periodically take place in order to conclude if and when an incarcerated – person has met the determined criteria that will enable him/her to walk the progressive steps through the system of incarceration into a system of supervision and be deemed restored to useful citizenship.
It is also apparent that I.D.O.C. has yet to assure us of this constitutional right. So, let’s all do our part to ensure that every incarcerated-person in the state of Illinois be given that which is their constitutional right- an Art. 1 Sec. 11 hearing.
My name is Richard Morris. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, feel free to either post them or write to me direct:
Richard Morris # B-65709
P.O. Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434-0112
I do hope you will continue to follow me. For my next topic is the plausibility of Art. 1 Sec. 11 hearings. God Bless.