New bill hopes to give prisoners better access to resources with a faster turnaround for transfer requests

ROCKFORD — Right now, prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections have to wait for three years before asking for a transfer, but state representative Maurice West hopes to change that.

“Extending that to three years, you are restricting people from various resources that they can obtain to help with their rehabilitation,” West said. “So that’s where this bill came along.”

If passed, the time for a prisoner to request a transfer would go from three years to six months. West wants to make it clear that the bill wouldn’t guarantee transfers, but he feels the shortened time to request one is important so prisoners can chase the resources they need.

“Their educational attainment,” West said. “I’m thinking about mental health services, physical health services just in the event that health changes and maybe this particular site does not offer what I need, can I go to a different site.”

The only Stateline prison that would be impacted is Dixon’s Correctional Facility, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a push at county jails to provide resources like education.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana touted the educational resources, especially the CNC program through Rock Valley College when it comes to teaching key job skills to inmates.

“That gives them precision training and how to run the CNC machine and we’ve actually graduated several inmates and they’ve actually gotten jobs after they’ve left here,” Caruana said. “That’s a win-win for our community.”

Along with the job training, Caruana says the jail also officers addiction services, mass with the diocese and anger management. He says a big goal for everyone in the corrections system is to make sure the inmates now don’t end up back in prison again.

“We’re trying to teach them not to reoffend,” Caruana said. “We all win as a society if we can take that person that’s broken in whatever the situation is, and we get them propped up, educated in a certain area that they want to do and move them forward.”

The bill to cut a prisoner’s transfer window is already through the house, but it needs to pass in the senate before Governor JB Pritzker can make it a law.

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March 17, 2023 at 09:52PM

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