A once-controversial early release program for prisoners could have the approval of the governor if it is implemented correctly.   Gov. Pat Quinn Friday said it is ultimately up to the legislature to come up with a workable Meritorious Good Time program that would shave days off of prison sentences and alleviate overcrowding at prisons across the state.


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“I think we definitely want to work with anyone that’s interested in this issue,” Quinn said. “It has to be done very carefully. We studied it in the last several years comprehensively.”   Quinn says the program, which was long used by the Department of Corrections until it was suspended in 2010, must be updated to include crimes that were once considered non-violent but are considered violent today. “There were offenses in the past that were not put in the category of violent offenses by the General Assembly,” Quinn said. “We think that has to be remedied. Things like domestic violence and DUIs.”  There are bills in both the House and the Senate that look to reinstate MGT with updated offenses but Quinn says he has yet to see them. 


Earlier this week a House committee heard testimony on prison overcrowding. Part of the testimony included bringing back the MGT program to help alleviate overcrowding. Quinn suspended the program after it was discovered that prison officials accelerated part of the MGT program, leaving some offenders to serve little or no time in state prison (with most or all of their sentences served in county jails). News of the accelerated program, MGT Push, created a political firestorm in the 2010 Democratic primary race for governor.


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