It’s on to the Illinois House of Representatives with a measure that would remove the ability of the Department of Corrections and attorney general to recoup housing costs from prison inmates.
Senate Bill 2465 passed the Illinois Senate on Tuesday 32-19.
Standing in opposition, state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Champaign, said the state should be able to go after white-collar criminals.
“If you’ve got a white-collar criminal with a million-dollar bank account, he ought to reimburse taxpayers for the cost,” Rose said.
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The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, responded that there are already financial penalties associated with violating laws.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said the state should maintain its ability to seek reimbursement from some inmates.
“This is a blanket taking away of discretion that I think hurts – potentially – the taxpayers of Illinois,” Murphy said.
Biss said working to recoup the money costs taxpayers by not only having to use resources in the courts but also by limiting individuals’ opportunities outside of prison, which in turn could result in their ending up on government assistance or reoffending and returning to prison.
“Those costs would be significantly in excess of the half a million dollars recouped over a long period of time,” Biss said.
Biss said the proposed bill reflects the values of Illinois when it comes to criminal justice: “That we believe in rehabilitation.”
The measure has been referred to the House Rules Committee.