The Corrections Department acknowledged it has added convicts and
removed others after inquiries from The Associated Press.
Corrections released a corrected index Thursday night of 1,745
offenders. That's an increase of 27 offenders from the 1,718 Quinn
initially said were sent home when he announced prison reforms Dec.
30 in response to reports about what had been a secret program.
An AP review of the two lists shows 256 offenders were added and
229 removed -- a net increase of 27 -- but Corrections spokeswoman
Januari Smith did not immediately respond to a request to confirm
MGT Push, which got its name from accelerating awards of
good-conduct credit, or "meritorious good time," to inmates,
continues to cause major campaign problems for Quinn, who is up
against state Comptroller Dan Hynes in the Feb. 2 Democratic primary
Hynes has made the botched program the center of his attacks on
the incumbent. Quinn has been seemingly inconsistent in his
explanations of the program and what he knew about it.
Corrections spokeswoman Januari Smith could not immediately
identify the added inmates but acknowledged that there were more
newly found inmates than the 27. Most had replaced other criminals
who shouldn't have been part of the group in the first place. They
were misidentified by a faulty search of an archaic computer system,
The error represents a blunder in a continuing problem for Quinn.
The addition of 256 names would mean 15 percent of the first list he
released was incorrect.
The administration also acknowledged MGT Push started earlier
than Quinn had previously stated after the AP reviewed a dozen
inmates released Sept. 11, five days earlier than the announced date
of Sept. 16.
MGT Push involved giving up to six months of good-conduct credit
as soon as prisoners entered the gates and before they had time to
show they deserved any time reduction for good behavior.
Corrections also dropped a 61-day minimum stay for all inmates,
meaning scores of prisoners spent a total of less than three weeks
behind bars, including county jail time. They served, on average, 26
days in the state pen -- from as few as seven to 60, just below the
At least 240 were convicted of violent crimes or crimes that
Officials kept no separate list of who left the lockup as part of
MGT Push. Smith could not immediately explain why.
After AP inquiries about 101 inmates locked up last fall for an
average 16 days but not on the MGT Push list, Corrections revisited
the computer program it used to pluck out offenders in question.
Smith blamed the gross error on an ancient computer system that
doesn't easily yield information.
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"DOC is dealing with an antiquated information technology system
that is over two decades old," Smith said. "We have asked for
additional funding to upgrade that system."
Offenders removed from the original list appear to have served 61
days or more, so did not benefit from MGT Push. Convicts added to
the index were found because information about their custody had
been updated and the first computer search did not identify them,
Quinn reinstated the 61-day minimum sentence and the Legislature
last week put it into law. Upon recommendations from a former
appellate justice who continues to study the issue, Quinn has
recommended other reforms.
But he's been hurt by seemingly changing positions on what he
knew. When the AP first asked about MGT Push in mid-December, his
staff defended it. After the AP report, Quinn halted the practice
but claimed he knew about it and it was well-publicized.
On Dec. 30, the governor said he wasn't aware violent offenders
were included and blamed his Corrections director, Michael Randle,
for not following instructions to prohibit aggressive criminals from
In early January, Corrections agents started "intensive
compliance checks" on the MGT Push parolees. They forced them to
abide by strict new rules -- right down to abstaining from alcohol
-- or be returned to prison to finish their terms. In just three
weeks, they've picked up 250 and sent them back. Combined with
earlier returns, more than 300 are again behind bars.
By JOHN O'CONNOR]
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