Decreasing The Illinois Prison Population

In 2021, BPI continued to fight to decrease the Illinois prison population equitably, including expanded mechanisms for midsentence review.

Ashton Hoselton, BPI Staff Counsel and Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow, fought for the parole of Mr. Allen, an inmate incarcerated at the Dixon Correctional Center who had been in jail for more than 40 years. Although Mr. Allen became eligible for parole in 1992, he had never been represented by legal counsel and had received zero votes for parole over 29 years.

Ashton prepared the case with only one in-person legal visit and 30-minute legal calls that had to be scheduled in advance due to COVID-19. Arguing for Mr. Allen’s release at the Prisoner Review Board resulted in him receiving favorable votes from all 12 Prison Review Board members, and he was released in spring 2021.

Despite the nearly thirty years it took Mr. Allen to be released on parole, he is relatively lucky. Illinois has not had a complete parole system since 1978, the year of Mr. Allen’s conviction. Parole offered him a chance to prove that he is accomplished, transformed, and unlikely to recidivate. Without this opportunity for parole, Mr. Allen would have been required to live behind bars whether or not his continued incarceration served any purpose. Others behind bars in Illinois also deserve this second chance.

Stable housing is imperative for reentry success, but returning residents face several obstacles that limit their ability to find a home. Unlocking Reentry Housing: Keys to Building Collaborative Tenant-Based Voucher Programs, a new report released by BPI, presents the Partnership for Housing Access findings. This 18-month pilot program involving carceral and housing system stakeholders and reentry advocates provided returning residents in Cook County with tenant-based vouchers and supportive services to help them obtain affordable housing and settle into their neighborhoods. 

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