Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

October 2, 2013

Parolee accused of murder never got ankle monitor



"All employees are regularly supervised and held accountable for their responsibilities," Shaer said.

Shaer previously said Jones was approved for early release last May after close scrutiny at several levels.

The new early-release program, which is designed to reward and encourage good prisoner behavior behind bars, is under scrutiny because of problems with the state's prior efforts. Quinn shut down the earlier early-release program in 2009 after the AP reported that the state had released more than 1,700 inmates, including hundreds who were violent, within weeks of their imprisonment. Some of them committed new crimes after being freed.

The new program, which began in March, precludes the early release of violent criminals. When the AP reviewed initial results in August, fewer than 20 of 1,600 parolees released under the new program — just over 1 percent — were back behind bars.

State Rep. Jim Sacia, a Pecatonica Republican who championed the revamped early-release program in the Legislature, said he was disturbed by the electronic monitoring mistake.

"Everything is as good as the follow-through and apparently, in this case, we had very poor follow-through," Sacia said. "The people responsible for the checks and balances need to be held accountable. To let this happen is unimaginable."

The use of electronic monitoring has proliferated in the U.S. Supporters say problems are rare and the 30-year-old tool is much more productive than old-fashioned street patrols and telephone calls to keep tabs on ex-cons. Some criminologists argue that electronic monitoring acts as a deterrent.

A national survey by the AP this year found tens of thousands of ex-offenders, parolees and others on electronic monitoring — so many that officials were being inundated with alerts and having trouble differentiating between threats and malfunctioning batteries. Shaer said that's not an issue in Illinois.

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