McClure, Others Claim Pritzker Skirting the Senate Confirmation Process on IL Prison Review Board Appointees

By Benjamin Cox on May 25, 2021 at 8:37am

Illinois Senate Republicans serving on the Senate Executive Appointments Committee are calling out Governor J.B. Pritzker for allegedly skirting a constitutional requirement with his appointments to the Illinois Prison Review Board.

Illinois Senators Steve McClure, Terry Bryant, and Jason Plummer called Pritzker’s process of hiding the appointments without Senate confirmation a procedural dodge. McClure called the move by the governor intentionally deceitful to the state. He found the skirting of the appointment procedure especially troublesome because the General Assembly is currently working on expanding powers of the Illinois Prison Review Board.

In March and April 2019, Governor Pritzker appointed four individuals to the Illinois Prison Review Board, which determines whether convicted felons can be granted parole. According to the Illinois Constitution, executive appointments have to be confirmed by the Illinois Senate within 60 session days. According to a report issued by the Senate GOP today, Pritzker withdrew the appointment of those individuals only to reappoint them just a few days later to reset the 60-day clock.

According to the Executive Appointment Committee members yesterday, the 4 individuals aren’t scheduled to be vetted in front of their committee during session today, marking 11 meetings in between their appointments. 58th District Senator Terri Bryant, who also used to work for the Illinois Department of Corrections, says the 4 appointees shouldn’t be allowed to continue in their roles without a proper confirmation hearing. She said the Prison Review Board’s decisions are life-altering for prisoners and their victims’ families and their complete vetting is necessary for the public’s safety.

According to the report released yesterday, the Illinois Prison Review Board has made the controversial decision to parole the following prisoners over the last two years: 68 year old Johnny Veal who was convicted in the murder of Chicago Police officers in 1970; 77 year old Joseph Hurst who was convicted of killing Chicago Police Officer Herman Stallworth and wounding another in 1967 while on parole for armed robbery; the former Theodore Parsons 63, who was convicted of murdering two Mahomet, IL teens in 1977; 82 year old Charles Weger, who was convicted of raping and murdering a woman at Starved Rock State Park in 1961; and 71 year old George Peter who was convicted of rape and murder of a 14 year old girl in 1967 in Chicago. The report specifically called out the Parsons case due to his release in March of this year with the State of Illinois failing to notify family members of the victims that Parsons was set to have a parole hearing.

As a result of these findings, Senate Republicans have filed an amendment to Senate Bill 1475, an ethics omnibus bill. The amendment to the bill would aim to speed up the prison review board confirmation process, requiring the appointments to be confirmed within 90 days of appointment. Failure to confirm or reject within that time period would be an automatic rejection. Additionally, the bill prohibits the governor from withdrawing a member appointment and reappointing them within a span of 2 years.