Illinois Pardon and Parole Laws


In Illinois, provisions regarding pardon and parole are provided under 730 ILCS 5/3-3-1 through 730 ILCS 5/3-3-13, and Illinois Const., Art. V, § 12.  Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-1, a Prisoner Review Board (“Board”) created independent of the Department of Corrections is the paroling authority for persons sentenced under the law.  The Board will consist of 15 persons appointed by the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.  One member of the Board will be designated by the Governor to be Chairman and will serve as Chairman at the pleasure of the Governor.  The members of the Board will have had at least 5 years of actual experience in the fields of penology, corrections work, law enforcement, sociology, law, education, social work, medicine, psychology, and other behavioral sciences.  The Governor can remove any member for incompetence, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or inability to serve.

Duties of the Board

730 ILCS 5/3-3-1 provides that the Board will act as the board of review for cases involving the revocation of good conduct credits or a suspension or reduction in the rate of accumulating such credit.  The Board will be the board of review and recommendation for the exercise of executive clemency by the Governor.  It will have the authority for establishing release dates for certain prisoners sentenced under the law.  The Board will also have the authority for setting conditions for parole and determining whether a violation of the conditions warrant revocation of parole or the imposition of other sanctions.

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-2, the Board should hear by at least one member and through a panel of at least 3 members decide, cases of prisoners who were sentenced under the law, and who are eligible for parole.  The Board decides the conditions of parole and the time of discharge from parole, impose sanctions for violations of parole, and revoke parole for those sentenced under the law.  However, the decision to parole and the conditions of parole for all prisoners who were sentenced for first degree murder or who received a minimum sentence of 20 years or more under the law will be determined by a majority vote of the Board.  It also decides cases brought by the Department of Corrections (Department) against a prisoner in the custody of the Department for alleged violation of Department rules with respect to good conduct credits in which the Department seeks to revoke good conduct credits.  In such cases, the Department can revoke up to 30 days of good conduct credit.  The Board can subsequently approve the revocation of additional good conduct credit, if the Department seeks to revoke good conduct credit in excess of thirty days.  However, the Board shall not be empowered to review the Department’s decision with respect to the loss of 30 days of good conduct credit for any prisoner or to increase any penalty beyond the length requested by the Department.

730 ILCS 5/3-3-2 also states that the Board also decides all requests for pardon, reprieve or commutation, and makes confidential recommendations to the Governor.  Upon recommendation of the Department, the Board can restore good conduct credit previously revoked.  The Board should cooperate with the Department in promoting an effective system of parole.  The Board should promulgate rules for the conduct of its work.  The Board should keep records of all of its official actions and make them accessible in accordance with law and the rules of the Board.  The Board should annually transmit to the Director a detailed report of its work for the preceding calendar year.  The annual report should also be transmitted to the Governor for submission to the Legislature.

Grounds for release on Parole

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-3, except for those offenders who accept the fixed release date established by the Board, every person serving a term of imprisonment under the law will be eligible for parole when the person has served:

  • a minimum term of an indeterminate sentence less time credit for good behavior, or 20 years less time credit for good behavior, or
  • 20 years of a life sentence less time credit for good behavior, or
  • 20 years or one-third of a determinate sentence less time credit for good behavior.

Any person serving a term of natural life imprisonment can be paroled or released only through executive clemency[i].

Conditions for Parole

730 ILCS 5/3-3-7 provides that the conditions of parole will be such as the Board considers necessary to assist the subject in leading a law-abiding life.  The conditions of every parole are such as:

  • The person does not violate any criminal statute of any jurisdiction during the parole or release term.
  • The person refrain from possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
  • The person report to an agent of the Department.
  • The person permits the agent to visit him/her at his/her home, employment, or elsewhere to the extent necessary for the agent to discharge his/her duties.
  • The person attends or resides in a facility established for the instruction or residence of persons on parole.
  • The person secures permission before visiting or writing a committed person in a Department facility.
  • The person reports all arrests to an agent of the Department when permitted by the arresting authority but in no event later than 24 hours after release from custody.
  • The person should not access or use a computer or any other device with Internet capability without the prior written approval of the Department.
  • The person should obtain permission of an agent of the Department before leaving the State of Illinois.
  • The person should obtain permission of an agent of the Department before changing his/her residence or employment.
  • The person should consent to a search of his/her person, property, or residence under his/her control.
  • The person should refrain from the use or possession of narcotics or other controlled substances in any form, or both, or any paraphernalia related to those substances and submit to a urinalysis test as instructed by a parole agent of the Department.
  • The person should not frequent places where controlled substances are illegally sold, used, distributed, or administered.
  • The person should not knowingly associate with other persons on parole without prior written permission of his/her parole agent and not associate with persons who are members of an organized gang.
  • The person should provide true and accurate information, that relates to his/her adjustment in the community while on parole or to his/her conduct while incarcerated, in response to inquiries by the parole agent or of the Department.
  • The person should follow any specific instructions provided by the parole agent that are consistent with furthering conditions set and approved by the Board or by law, exclusive of placement on electronic detention, to achieve the goals and objectives of his/her parole or to protect the public.  These instructions by the parole agent can be modified at any time, as the agent deems appropriate.

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-7, the Board can in addition to other conditions require that the person should work or pursue a course of study or vocational training, undergo medical or psychiatric treatment, or treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, attend or reside in a facility established for the instruction or residence of persons on probation or parole, support his/her dependents, comply with the terms and conditions of an order of protection issued pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.

If the offender is a minor, the Board can also require that the minor should reside with his/her parents or in a foster home, attend school, attend a non-residential program for youth, or contribute to his/her own support at home or in a foster home[ii].

730 ILCS 5/3-3-7 also states that if the person is a sex offender, upon release from the custody of the Department, the Board can require the person to reside only at a Department approved location, to comply with all requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act, notify third parties of the risks that can be occasioned by his/her criminal record, obtain the approval of an agent of the Department prior to accepting employment or pursuing a course of study or vocational training and notify the Department prior to any change in employment, study, or training.  The person should not be employed or participate in any volunteer activity that involves contact with children, except under circumstances approved in advance and in writing by an agent of the Department.  The Board can electronically monitor the person for a minimum of 12 months from the date of release as determined by the Board.  The person should refrain from entering into a designated geographic area except upon terms approved in advance by an agent of the Department.  The person should refrain from having any contact, including written or oral communications, directly or indirectly, personally or by telephone, letter, or through a third party with certain specified persons including, the victim or the victim’s family without the prior written approval of an agent of the Department.  The person is required to not reside near, visit, or be in or about parks, schools, day care centers, swimming pools, beaches, theaters, or any other places where minor children congregate without advance approval of an agent of the Department and immediately report any incidental contact with minor children to the Department.  The Board can require a written daily log of activities of the person if directed by an agent of the Department.

Authority of the Board

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-8, the Board can enter an order releasing and discharging one from parole, and the person’s commitment to the Department, when the Board determines that the person is likely to remain at liberty without committing another offense.  The order of discharge will become effective upon entry of the order of the Board.  The Board should notify the clerk of the committing court of the order.  Upon receipt of such copy, the clerk should make an entry on the record judgment that the sentence or commitment has been satisfied pursuant to the order.  After the Board discharges a person, the rights of the person discharged will be restored[iii].

730 ILCS 5/3-3-9 provides that if prior to expiration or termination of the term of parole, a person violating a condition set by the Board or a condition of parole, the Board can:

  • continue the existing term, with or without modifying or enlarging the conditions; or
  • parole or release the person to a half-way house; or
  • revoke the parole and reconfine the person for a term in prison.

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-3-9, the Board can provide the person against the term of reimprisonment or reconfinement for time spent in custody since the person was paroled or released which has not been credited against another sentence or period of confinement.  A juvenile person can be recommitted until the age of 21.  The Board can revoke parole for violation of a condition for the duration of the term and for any further period which is reasonably necessary for the adjudication of matters arising before its expiration.  When parole is not revoked that period shall be credited to the term, unless a community-based sanction is imposed as an alternative to revocation and reincarceration, including a diversion established by the Illinois Department prior to the holding of a preliminary parole revocation hearing.  Parolees who are diverted to a community-based sanction should serve the entire term of parole.

A person charged with violating a condition of parole should have a preliminary hearing before a hearing officer designated by the Board to determine if there is cause to hold the person for a revocation hearing.  However, no preliminary hearing need be held when revocation is based upon new criminal charges and a court finds probable cause on the new criminal charges or when the revocation is based upon a new criminal conviction and a certified copy of that conviction is available.  Parole will not be revoked without written notice to the offender setting forth the violation of parole charged against him/her[iv].

The Board can either revoke or order the person’s term continued with or without modification or enlargement of the conditions.  Parole can not be revoked for failure to make payments under the conditions of parole or release unless the Board determines that such failure is due to the offender’s willful refusal to pay[v].

The right of Governor to grant Pardon

Illinois Const., Art. V, § 12, the Governor has power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses on such terms as the Governor thinks proper.  The manner of applying the pardon can be regulated by law.

Illinois Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] 730 ILCS 5/3-3-3.

[ii] 730 ILCS 5/3-3-7.

[iii] 730 ILCS 5/5-5-5.

[iv] 730 ILCS 5/3-3-9.

[v] Id.