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People v. Carillo

June 21, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PEDRO CARILLO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County. No. 98-CF-207 Honorable James R. Williamson, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kuehn

Not Released For Publication

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PEDRO CARILLO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County. No. 98-CF-207 Honorable James R. Williamson, Judge, presiding.

Daniel M. Kirwan, Deputy Defender, Larry R. Wells, Assistant Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Fifth Judicial District, Route 15 East, P. O. Box 2430, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864-0047 Attorneys for Appellant Hon. Brian Trambley, State's Attorney, Johnson County Courthouse, P. O. Box 1257, Vienna, IL 62995; Norbert J. Goetten, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Sharon Shanahan, Contract Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Route 15 East, P. O. Box 2249, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864 Attorneys for Appellee

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kuehn

 Many of our penal institutions allow family and friends to visit prisoners. In order to ensure prison safety and security, the law prohibits those visitors from bringing certain things with them when they come into the penal institution (720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(a)(1) (West 1996)). Even if those things are not brought inside, no one must leave them in a place where an inmate could potentially gain access to them. 720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(a)(3) (West 1996). These prohibitions extend beyond penitentiaries and apply to any place that houses prisoners. 720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(1) (West 1996).

Over the years, legislators have added to the list of items of contraband. See 720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(2) (West 1996). The list now includes a number of things that lawmakers do not want inmates to have, even though the items are perfectly legal for anyone to possess outside of a prison environment. Thus, in addition to obvious contraband like illegal drugs or firearms, visitors must refrain from bringing a host of intrinsically innocent items with them when they enter a jail or a prison.

The most notable example of items that people routinely carry with them, but must not carry into a jail or a prison, is "[e]lectronic contraband." 720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(2)(xi) (West 1996) (as amended by Public Act 89-688, effective June 1, 1997). In order to deny prisoners the ability to freely communicate with the outside world, the legislature added devices like cellular phones, computers, and pagers to the contraband list. They can no longer be brought into a penal institution without committing a Class 1 felony offense. Additionally, legislators wanted to bring within the ambit of the law's prohibition certain items that prisoners could easily convert into lethal weapons. Such things as broken bottles and safety flares were expressly added to the contraband list (720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(2)(v), (c)(2)(vi)(B) (West 1996)), while the term "weapon" was broadly defined to cover anything from tire irons to golf clubs (720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(2)(v) (West 1996)).

Certainly, prison visitors would know that the authorities would frown upon them entering a penal institution for a visit and bringing a tire iron or a three-iron along. However, how many visitors would give serious thought about driving onto a visitors' parking lot with such items locked in the trunk of their car?

This is a case where a would-be prison visitor parked his car, locked four cans of beer inside, and attempted to visit an inmate. His conviction for bringing contraband into a penal institution raises the following question: Do people who enter prison grounds and park their cars on designated visitors' parking lots violate the law by leaving contraband items, otherwise legal to possess, safely secured inside their cars during visitation?

The actions prosecuted in this case are brought within the crime's reach by a 1983 decision of this court that equated bringing items of contraband into a penal institution with bringing those items onto prison grounds. People v. Turnbeaugh, 116 Ill. App. 3d 199, 204-05, 451 N.E.2d 1016, 1020 (1983). We must revisit that decision in light of the subsequent expansion of the contraband list. We examine the legislature's desire to deny inmates access to contraband, mindful that under our existing interpretation most prison visitors could be prosecuted for violating the law's prohibition. For example, the severe penalties that accompany a Class 1 felony could befall anyone who drove an automobile fitted with a built-in cellular phone onto a prison parking lot. Moreover, anyone who failed to empty a car trunk of the sundry items that prisoners could easily convert into weaponry could fall prey to a prosecution for bringing contraband into a penal institution. If driving onto prison property in a car that contains contraband constitutes the crime, a car with a trunk that contained tire irons, golf clubs, fishing knives, tools, or safety flares could not be used to visit an inmate without violating the law, even though such items, like the built-in cell phone, could not find their way into prison quarters.

Thus, we must decide what the legislature meant by bringing contraband into a penal institution, in light of the many intrinsically innocent items added to the contraband list, several of which are apt to be found in cars driven by people who want to visit inmates.

Pedro Carillo wanted to visit a cousin confined at the Shawnee Correctional Center. When he entered the prison grounds, a guard told him where to park his car. Pursuant to the guard's directions, Carillo drove to a designated visitors' parking lot. He parked the car, locked it, and walked toward the door where visitors had to enter the prison. Before Carillo could get to the entrance, a guard appeared and asked for permission to search his car. Carillo consented. The guard promptly discovered a paper sack in the back of the car. When he looked inside, the guard found four unopened cans of beer.

Although it is legal to possess unopened cans of beer inside a car, alcoholic liquor is an item of contraband prohibited from being brought into a penal institution (720 ILCS 5/31A-1.1(c)(2)(i) (West 1996)). Carillo was tried and convicted of ...


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