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People v. Burton

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 15, 1981.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

DON BURTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Piatt County; the Hon. JOHN P. SHONKWILER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

We here compare "good time" for felons with "good behavior allowance" for misdemeanants.

Specifically, does the constitution permit a felon sentenced to one year to be released before a misdemeanant sentenced to only 6 months?

Yes.

We affirm.

Burton was convicted of reckless conduct (a Class A misdemeanor) and sentenced to 6 months at the Vandalia Correctional Center. While incarcerated, Burton will be subject to the Misdemeanant Good Behavior Allowance Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 75, pars. 30-34), which provides that misdemeanants are entitled to a cumulative "good behavior allowance." However, the Act will not permit Burton to accumulate the equivalent of the day-for-day good time credit available to felons under section 3-6-3(a)(2) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1003-6-3(a)(2)). Even if Burton accumulates all possible good time credits during his six-month sentence, it is still possible for a felon serving a one-year sentence to be released earlier than Burton. (A felon can receive up to 90 days' good-time credit for "meritorious service" in addition to his day-for-day good time credits. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1003-6-3(a)(3).)

Burton contends that such a good time credit scheme violates his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the Federal and State constitutions.

I

• 1, 2 When determining whether a statute violates due process, a court must determine "whether the statute is reasonably designed to remedy the evils which the legislature has determined to be a threat to the public health, safety and general welfare." (Heimgaertner v. Benjamin Electric Manufacturing Co. (1955), 6 Ill.2d 152, 159, 128 N.E.2d 691, 695.) Burton argues that the good time provision for misdemeanants is not reasonably designed to fulfill the purposes of the Unified Code of Corrections, which are set forth in section 1-1-2 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1001-1-2):

"(a) prescribe sanctions proportionate to the seriousness of the offenses and permit the recognition of differences in rehabilitation possibilities among individual offenders;

(b) forbid and prevent the commission of offenses;

(c) prevent arbitrary or oppressive treatment of persons adjudicated offenders or delinquents; and

(d) restore offenders to useful citizenship."

Defendant contends that a scheme which can cause a misdemeanant to be incarcerated longer than a felon and offers misdemeanants less incentive for good conduct is not "reasonably designed to remedy the evils" to which it is directed — i.e., (1) the sanctions end up not being proportionate to the seriousness of the offense; (2) it does not prevent arbitrary and oppressive ...


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