Reviewing Illinois’ criminal code is a good idea, according to a University of Illinois law professor. The code was “strong” when it was adopted in 1961, says Professor Eric A. Johnson, but since then, lawmakers have added crimes and added rules about what actions must be punished under what statutes, and it’s now confusing, even if prosecutors are aware of everything that’s in it.

“I think that there are probably a lot of prosecutors who for the sake of fairness and even-handedness probably ignore a lot of those superfluous statutes and focus on the regular, hard-core crimes,” he said.


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The governor has announced a commission to tackle this job of re-evaluating the criminal code. He’s concerned about some offenders being in prison too long and punishment not fitting the crime; he also sees incarceration as a cost problem and would like to find alternatives where appropriate. Johnson, a former prosecutor, says he thinks sentences are fair.

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