State Senator Steve McClure says that Senate Republicans are pushing the issue on confirmation hearings for Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Illinois Prison Review Board appointments. McClure says that he and his Republican colleagues on the Senate Appointments Committee have made a point to bring up the issue every day during session this month: “On the floor, in committee, at press conferences – we are trying to get the word out there because this is very serious. We have some dangerous people that have been getting released. I just saw recently that a child murderer was paroled based on a decision by the Prison Review Board made, and that person is now gone, disappeared. They are gone. The last time they were released, this similar thing happened and a 16 year old was murdered. This person was responsible for it. These are very serious decisions, and our job is to get this to the public on the floor of the Senate and in the committee rooms because people need to know about this. I think the more sunlight that is shone on this will cause more action to take place and get these people voted on, because many of us are concerned about what is happening.”
Another appointment who did not appear in yesterday’s press release but is still within the 60 session day limit for confirmation to the Prison Review is Max Cerda. Cerda was appointed by Pritzker last year. Cerda became the first ex-offender to be appointed to the Prison Review Board. Cerda was convicted of double murder and attempted murder in 1979 at the age of 16. He was paroled in 1998 and has been working on an ex-offender initiative in the City of Chicago called the BUILD program to help prisoners with life after prison.
McClure says that ex-felons like Cerda don’t belong on the board and he has filed legislation so that felons cannot be appointed. McClure says Cerda’s appointment needs to be vetted, too: “I think a lot of people are seeing that right now there seems to be a war on victims. The only people that the majority party wants to punish are victims. If you’re criminals, they feel like you shouldn’t be punished and need to be released, and no crime is too horrible for you not to get parole or to be released. That’s just what it’s coming down to. His appointment is in line with that ideology that people should be released no matter what, and the safety of the public and justice for the victims are never really taken into account in any serious way. Unfortunately, at this time, that’s the way it is in the [Illinois] Senate and the House.”
McClure says that the more light that is shined on the problems with the appointments, the more likely action or possibly lawsuits will help get things changed in the process.