Following recent revelations that Governor J.B. Pritzker has commuted sentences for and released violent criminals, including convicted murderers, several Senate Republican lawmakers have submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) seeking more information about inmates who have been released.
"I find it troubling that not only have violent criminals been released, but that they have been released with so little transparency," said Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods). "I recognize that this is a challenging time for Illinois, but we can't set a precedent of circumventing the mechanisms that are in place to protect the citizens of our state."
On April 16, Senators Steve McClure, Chapin Rose, Craig Wilcox, Jason Plummer, Jil Tracy, Dan McConchie, Brian Stewart (R-Freeport), Paul Schimpf, and Dale Righter sent a letter (seen below) to the Governor expressing concern that violent criminals had been released without informing the victims of these crimes or their families.
"Not only do we need more information about reports the Governor is releasing violent felons from prison back into our communities, we also deserve some explanation as to the reasoning behind such decision-making. COVID-19 concerns are valid, but any concerns about social distancing in prison should not LEAD with opening the doors and letting convicted violent felons out," said Senator Stewart.
In the letter, legislators made several requests, including that the Pritzker Administration provide a full list of the names of inmates who have been released and that this list be published on the IDOC website.
To date, this request has not been fulfilled, leaving this group of legislators no choice but to file the FOIA request seeking a list of all inmates who have been released from IDOC custody before completing their sentence since January 1, 2020. The FOIA asks that the list includes first and last name, county of conviction, case number, conviction, sentence, date of release, and reasons for release
"While it is certainly the prerogative of the Executive Branch and the Governor to release convicted felons, it strikes me as demonstrating reckless disregard for the safety of the citizens of Illinois in general, and the victims of the crimes and the witnesses against these felons in particular," Senator Stewart said.
"It is unfortunate that our calls for greater transparency on this issue - especially for victims and their families - haven't been listened to, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to push for the release of this critical information," said Senator McConchie.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has five days to provide a response to the request unless it requests an extension.