Judge gives preliminary OK to parolee lawsuit settlement

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CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal judge has granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a lawsuit alleging Illinois violates parolees’ rights by returning them to prison for supposed violations after rushed, haphazard hearings.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve ruled during a status hearing Thursday in Chicago.

Attorneys who filed the suit in 2013 heralded the settlement. They say it will help make the system fairer, including by ensuring parolees’ access to lawyers.

MacArthur Justice Center attorney Sheila Bedi calls the current parole-revocation system “byzantine.” Around 30,000 people in Illinois are on parole and Bedi says the settlement, if implemented, “should significantly reduce” the numbers of people sent back to prisoned on parole violations.

Current parolees wil have several months to comment on the settlement before the judge decides can give it final approval.

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