Governor commutes sentences for crimes on guards at Harrisburg I - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Governor commutes sentences for crimes on guards at Harrisburg IYC

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HARRISBURG, Ill. -- In an unannounced move, Governor Bruce Rauner released six inmates serving time for aggravated battery on guards at the Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg.  

ProPublica reported the commutations, following a report it published in October last year, detailing the crimes some of the men faced that may have been dealt with internally a few years ago.

A message seeking comment from Governor Rauner has not been returned.

The inmates include Jaylan Banks, who told ProPublica he got into a fight with a guard over a bottle of body wash when he was 17.

A judge sentenced him to eight years in prison in July 2017.

Another inmate whose sentence was commuted, 18-year-old David Hayes, got six years in prison for spitting on a guard, according to ProPublica.

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for ACLU Illinois, said the men should've never been tried criminally.

"It was a misuse of the criminal justice system and this is the kind of corrective action that the commutation and pardon power is meant to correct," Yohnka said.

The ACLU pushed for reforms within the juvenile justice system, including the elimination of solitary confinement as a punishment.

But Yohnka said guards responded to the reforms by seeking criminal charges through the state's attorney's office.

"Yes, there have to be consequences for actions which are inappropriate in any facility," Yohnka said. "But there are ways to deal with that within the disciplinary facility itself."

Yohnka said he hopes the governor's decision to let the six men walk free will lead to more reforms on how Illinois deals with offenses inside youth prisons.

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