Exclusively Practicing Criminal Defense for
Two Decades
David Olshansky

Parole Hearings / Violations

Inmates who maintain good behavior during their prison term may become eligible for early release on parole. This is done through a parole hearing, which is held by a court to determine whether an inmate should be released from prison.

The hearing is overseen by the Prisoner Review Board. Any victims of the crime and the prosecution are also informed about the hearing to bring forth any objections. The Board will consider the law and all circumstances of the case to make a decision on granting or refusing parole.

For some felonies, parole becomes eligible after mandatory completion of 85% of the punishment. For other felonies, the defendant may be eligible for parole sooner. Some of the severe offenses such as first degree murder are non-parole crimes.

State Legislation

Parole hearings and violations are covered by 730 ILCS 105/1 and 730 ILCS 5/3-3-9. The section on parole hearings outlines the structure of the board and the process of probationary release.

The State Attorney is authorized to forward a copy of any statement from the victim to be considered by the board. The victim is also allowed to submit a statement for review by the board.

In case of an open hearing, the board can restrict the number of individuals allowed in court. The board may deny admission to any people if it feels that they present a danger to the security of the institution or disrupt the hearing in any manner.

The board will consider the conduct and statements of the applicant, as well as any challenges brought forward by the State Office and the victim before reaching a decision. The board may choose to make a decision on the same day or deliberate for up to 7 days before sending the notice of its decision to the State Office and victim.

Any decisions taken by the court will be considered final. If the board chooses to grant parole, the applicant will be released according to process.

Violations of Parole

An inmate who has been released on parole is expected to follow certain conditions. Some examples of the conditions include the following:

  • The parolee should not possess or carry any firearms or other dangerous weapons while on parole.
  • The parolee must not commit any offenses as outlined under the criminal statute.
  • The parolee attends or resides in a facility established for his or her instruction or residence.
  • The parolee must periodically report to a parole officer who gets assigned to them by the board.
  • The parole officer is authorized to visit the parolee’s home or workplace to determine his or her compliance with the conditions set by the board.
  • The parolee must inform and get the approval from the parole officer before changing residence.
  • The parolee cannot leave the state without obtaining authorization from the parole officer first.
  • The parolee must obtain written permission from the board before associating with another inmate out on parole.
  • The parolee must provide true and accurate information regarding his or her adjustment in the community in response to inquiries from the parole officer or the corrections department.

Conditions of parole are dependent on the offense for which the parolee had been convicted previously. For example someone convicted of drug possession and consumption may be required to get blood tested for drugs periodically.

A person who fails to comply with the parole conditions and restrictions may get their parole revoked and get sent back to prison. The board can decide to take one of the following actions in case of a violation.

  1. Continue the existing parole term, with or without modifying the conditions.
  2. Parole the person to a half-way house.
  3. Revoke the parole or mandatory supervised release and send the parolee to prison for a term computed according to law.

Granting parole has many benefits, both for the state and the inmate. On the one hand, it allows the government to save costs on running expensive correctional facilities. Our prisons are becoming overcrowded and the state spends millions of dollars each month to run these facilities.

Parole also allows an inmate to get back on his or her feet with help from a correctional officer. Many ex-convicts who leave prison after serving their full term go on to commit more crimes because they cannot find a legal way to make a living.

Working with a parole officer helps inmates find decent employment and housing. It keeps them from going back to a life of crime and gives them a better opportunity to become law-abiding citizen.

Examples and Court Cases

The State Office and victims play a very important part in parole hearings. The Review Board gives them due consideration before deciding whether to release an inmate on parole or not.

Consider the case of Carl Reimann, 77, from Yorkville. He was convicted in 1973 for the murder of five people at a village Steak House.

According to the case, Reimann had entered the restaurant with an accomplice to rob the place. After his accomplice Betty Piche took the money from the cash register, Reimann started shooting the staff and patrons with his handgun.

The police caught both of them soon after the incident. Piche was also sentenced as an accomplice but was released during the 1980s. She has since died.

Reimann was sentenced to five 150 year sentences in state prison. While he was serving his prison term, changes took place in the state’s sentencing laws in 1978. The changes allow Reimann to apply for parole every few years.

His sentence came up for review in 2017 and the Review Board was deadlocked in a 7-7 tie vote. The Kendall County State Attorney had spoken to the families of the victims. He informed the Board that all of them had been adamantly opposed to Reimann receiving parole.

The board decided not to grant him parole in May 2017. His case is up for a second review in April 2018. The board is expected to consider his old age but it seems unlikely that he would be granted parole.

Reimann’s case is an extreme example on one end. The majority of inmates at correctional facilities are able to get parole based on good behavior and after serving the mandatory prison term.

Every month, the state corrections department releases hundreds of men and women on parole provided they comply with their conditions release.

A capable legal defense lawyer can prepare a strong case that can succeed with the board. A defense team would be able to coordinate with witnesses, victims and State Attorney’s office to give the applicant the best chances of success.