EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- People convicted in Illinois of attempting to commit terrorism may have to serve more of any prison sentence they get under a law scheduled to take effect after this year.
Gov. Pat Quinn this month signed into law a measure requiring that anyone convicted of such crimes serve 85 percent of their sentence. Under current state law, a prisoner can get one day of good-conduct credit for each day served behind bars.
The measure was motivated by a Madison County case involving Olutosin Oduwole, a 27-year-old aspiring rapper convicted of attempting to threaten a Virginia Tech-like rampage and later sentenced last December to five years in prison. Oduwole may be eligible for parole after serving half of that. Prosecutors had requested the maximum punishment of 15 years.
Jurors found Oduwole guilty of attempting to make a terrorist threat involving a piece of paper police found in his car abandoned on the 13,000-student Southern Illinois University campus he was attending in 2007 in Edwardsville, northeast of St. Louis.
The writing demanded payment to a PayPal account, threatening "if this account doesn't reach $50,000 in the next 7 days then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!"
"The VT shooting" was a reference to the Virginia Tech rampage, which happened just months before Oduwole's July 2007 arrest and left 32 people dead along with the gunman. But Oduwole's writing did not make any direct reference to targeting the Edwardsville campus.
Even before the piece of paper was found in Oduwole's car, federal agents were scrutinizing him. A gun dealer had tipped them off earlier in the month that Oduwole appeared overly anxious to get four semiautomatic weapons, including an Uzi-like Mac 10, that he had ordered.
Oduwole maintained through his attorneys that the questioned words were merely private thoughts, perhaps rap lyrics, and were never meant to be made public or shared.
Now imprisoned at western Illinois' Pittsfield work camp, Oduwole started his sentencing in January. He could be eligible for release in February 2014.