Second Look for IDOC Seniors
NEWLY-FILED ILLINOIS HOUSE BILL 2045 TO ESTABLISH PAROLE PROCESS FOR OLDER ILLINOIS PRISONERS WHO SERVED 25 PLUS YEARS
February 2, 2023
A coalition of public interest groups, including the UU Prison Ministry of Illinois, advocating for the
passage of HB 2045, filed in the Illinois House of Representatives on February 2, 2023 by Rep.
Justin Slaughter (D-27th), is being coordinated by the Public Affairs Committee of the Union
League Club of Chicago.
The bill would provide a parole process for approximately 1,000 people in Illinois prisons who
are 55 years or older and have served at least 25 years.
Under the bill, no one would be entitled to release, but rather eligible people would be given the
opportunity to present their individual circumstances to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and
The bill requires the Board to decide whether to grant parole based on several considerations,
including rehabilitation, character references, participation in educational and work programs,
and criminal and disciplinary history. The bill also provides that victims’ families would be
notified and given the opportunity to participate in the parole hearing.
In 1978, Illinois abolished discretionary parole for those sentenced on or after February 1, 1978.
Since then, the growth in the prison population has far outpaced the increase in the state’s
general population, and the percentage of the prison population 55 years or older has also
Dr. John Raba, the former medical director of Cermak Health Services, which provides health
care at the Cook County Jail, is the court-appointed monitor in a class action where state officials
have entered into a consent decree requiring that adequate medical care be provided in Illinois
prisons. Dr. Raba has reported that the state is not meeting the needs of older prisoners and does
not have the resources to provide such care.
According to Dr. Raba’s report, the inadequate health care is resulting in elder abuse and
avoidable deaths. Dr. Raba has recommended that a pathway to early release of prisoners be
established. This bill would establish a reasonable pathway. Rep. Slaughter explains the need for this bill as follows: “This bill would establish a much- needed mechanism for considering on an individual basis whether there is no longer any public interest to be served by continuing to imprison an individual who has aged and served significant time, because the individual has become rehabilitated, is not a threat to public safety, and neither the public nor the individual would benefit from that individual’s continued imprisonment. The people covered by the bill are the least likely to re-offend and the most expensive to care for, given medical expenses and end-of-life care.” In addition to the Union League Club of Chicago, other organizations advocating for passage of Illinois HB 2045 are: League of Women Voters of Illinois, Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois, John Howard Association, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice, Uptown Peoples Law Center, Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois and Moran Center for Youth Advocacy.
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