Professors at Northwestern University Law School are alleging that the state of Illinois is running an unconstitutional scam to revoke parole for ex-convicts and keep them locked up, the Chicago Tribune reports. With the help of an attorney at Uptown’s People’s Law Center, they have issued three class action lawsuits against the state.
Nearly 40 percent of Illinois’s prison population consists of individuals who have been incarcerated for parole violations — everything from new crimes to failing to check-in with officers. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit claim that the state is violating state law and constitutional rights of parolees in more than 10,000 hearings held each year.
Parolees usually have to wait months to get a hearing that should be held within ten days. Some people even remain locked up after being acquitted for a charge.
“I think everybody should care about the fact that the prisons are overcrowded and we’re keeping people in prison and in the Cook County Jail for no reason,” Alexa Van Brunt, a clinical assistant professor of law at Northwestern, told the Tribune. “It’s a waste of money and resources.”
“Prison is not the solution to some of these violations.”
According to court filings, the state of Illinois has denied violating agreements and claimed that the plaintiff’s attorneys relied on “cherry-picked” cases from about 350 parole files to build their argument.