Professors at Northwestern University Law School and an attorney at Uptown People's Law Center have issued three class action lawsuits against the state of Illinois alleging that the parole system is running a scam to keep parolees locked up needlessly, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Forty percent of the current Illinois prison population consists of people with parole violations. According to the lawsuits, the parole violations range from failing to meet required check-in appointments to being charged with a new crime. The suit also alleges that parolees who are supposed to have an initial hearing held or waived within 10 days often wait weeks or months. In some cases people have remained in custody even after they have been acquitted of the parole violation, which was the reason for their arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"I think everybody should care about the fact that the prisons are overcrowded and we're keeping people in prison and in the Cook County Jail for no reason," said Alexa Van Brunt, a clinical assistant professor of law at Northwestern. "It's a waste of money and resources. Prison is not the solution to some of these violations," she told the Chicago Tribune.

A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said he would not comment on pending litigation.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.