Parole Revocation Hearings Result in the Arbitrary Imprisonment of Thousands of Illinoisans, Civil Rights Lawsuit Charges
People released from state prisons routinely have their constitutional rights violated and are re-imprisoned for alleged parole violations without a fair hearing, access to legal counsel or the ability to cross-examine witnesses and review evidence presented at "sham" hearings, according to a class action lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the directors of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB) and the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) and Governor Pat Quinn.
More than 10,000 unlawful parole revocations hearings are held in Illinois each year. The hearings typically last five minutes or less, and nearly all end with the imprisonment of the alleged parole violator, even when courts have dismissed the criminal charges that prompted the hearings in the first place, according to the complaint
Filed by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People's Law Center, the class action civil rights case describes a "procedural vortex" that rotates people in and out of the prison system-often on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. Once people are re-imprisoned, they are subjected to a "byzantine and complex" process where parolees are pressured to make decisions and argue for their freedom without any advice from a lawyer, which is a direct violation of their constitutional rights.
MacArthur Justice Center attorneys Alexa Van Brunt and Sheila Bedi are handling the suit.
Updated - 10/23/2013