20 from Champaign County part of release program

URBANA – State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she's aware of 20 inmates from Champaign County who won early release, and that information came from Dan Hynes' campaign staff.

"We are supposed to receive notice when people are released," Rietz said. "We do receive notices, but they don't have a big highlighted line saying this person is part of the governor's early release program."

Although none of those released early on Champaign County cases are particularly heinous criminals, Rietz said, many are repeat offenders.

"They're mostly felony driving while revoked (convictions). These are not first or second or third offenders," she said. "The Legislature created this process where the penalty increases as the offenses increase. If we don't want to follow that process or can't afford that process, then the Legislature needs to come up with a different plan because otherwise it's a joke."

"Just simply releasing people from prison without the necessary support in place in the long term doesn't save us anything," Rietz said. "In my opinion, the parole system is already seriously taxed."

Of the 20 names she received, two have been charged with crimes since being released – one for theft and one for residential burglary. A third offender came in contact with police but was not arrested. The report about the incident still has to be reviewed by Rietz's office to see if he should be charged.

Rietz said the governor's early-release program is causing her office to reconsider the sentences it recommends to include county jail time and probation.

"The problem with that is, our local resources are taxed also," she said. "We have made great effort to keep our numbers in the county jail down based on our own financial situation. It's going very well. We've been consistently below capacity."

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