In Illinois, defendants facing years of prison may not actually have to complete their entire sentence. Defendants are often eligible for sentence credit based on the completion of programs or services rendered while they are in jail awaiting sentencing or during their time in prison.
A sentence credit for prison sentences may be awarded for the following:
(A) successful completion of programming while in custody of the Department or while in custody prior to sentencing;
(B) compliance with the rules and regulations of the Department; or
(C) service to the institution, service to a community, or service to the State.
Completion of Programs
The completion of courses or programs in education, life skills, behavior modification, drug treatment, re-entry planning, or Illinois Correctional Industries programs can earn an offender sentence credit and lessen time served. An example of this would be an inmate earning his or her GED while incarcerated.
Compliance with Rules and Regulations
When offenders abide by the rules and regulations of the Illinois Department of Corrections they are eligible to earn sentence credit. You may have heard this referred to as “time off for good behavior.” In practice, all of those sentenced to prison time serve a minimum amount of that time and are penalized when they fail to follow the rules of the Department. This was passed in Illinois in 1998 and is known as Truth-In-Sentencing. These percentages are based on the type of charge for which an inmate is serving time:
- Day-for-day inmates may up to one day off their sentence for each day served (i.e. 50%)
- 60% TIS inmates must serve a minimum of 60% of their court-appointed sentence
- 75% TIS inmates must serve a minimum of 75% of their court-appointed sentence
- 85% TIS inmates must serve a minimum of 85% of their court-appointed sentence
- 100% TIS inmates must serve their full sentence (100%) and are ineligible for any amount of time off due to good behavior or programming
For example, an inmate in prison for a violent crime who follows the rules and regulations of the Department of Corrections will serve 85% of his or her sentence. If he or she breaks rules, the percentage of time will increase.
Inmates may perform services to the institution, services to the community, or services to the state for which they may receive sentence credit. Examples of this could include completing approved community service or working in some capacity in the institution an individual is incarcerated in.
It is common for first time offenders unable to post-bond to participate in work, vocational, and/or religious programs for which the offender can receive up to 1.5 days credit for each day participating in the program. This means that while they are in jail awaiting trial, a defendant can be completing programs that will reduce their sentence before it even begins.
This has resulted in defendants being sentenced, sent to prison, and released in the same day. This may be a waste of resources, but in other cases it is beneficial that defendants can be working to reduce their sentences before they arrive in prison.
If you have any legal questions about sentencing credit, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC.