Over the past three decades, Illinois has instituted several crime-fighting measures, including truth-in-sentencing for violent offenders, determinate sentencing and the abolishment of discretionary parole. At the same time, the state prison population has increased by over 300 percent, and between 1999 and 2006 there was a 47 percent increase in adult prison admissions, 65 percent of which was due to an uptick in admissions for technical violators.
Pew and the Vera Institute of Justice have been working since 2007 with the Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform (CLEAR) Initiative Commission, an arm of Chicago Metropolis 2020 (a Chicago-based nonprofit), which was established to review sentencing practices and recommend changes to the state's criminal and corrections codes. In 2009, the state adopted several pieces of CLEAR Commission legislation aimed at making the codes easier to understand and apply. As a follow-up to that work, CLEAR developed legislation for a Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) to serve as a neutral body charged with examining sentencing policies and practices.
CM2020 also developed the Crime Reduction Act of 2009 to address the state's rising prison population. Modeled after Pew's Policy Framework to Strengthen Community Corrections, the act calls for the development of evidence-based practices at all levels of the corrections system, the development of individualized case plans to guide case management decisions, the development of a system of graduated responses to probation violations and professional development services to support staff in deploying these new practices. In addition, the act creates Adult Redeploy Illinois, a performance incentive funding program that will direct cost savings to local agencies that divert low-risk offenders from prison.