SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) says Gov. JB Pritzker must explain to Illinoisans why he continues to dodge a constitutionally-required confirmation process for his Prisoner Review Board appointees whose controversial parole decisions are releasing convicted criminals back to the community.
“The Illinois Constitution requires Prisoner Review Board members to be fully vetted and approved by the Senate. This Board is tasked with very serious decisions that can significantly affect our communities, yet most of its members are currently operating with no oversight and very little transparency,” Stewart said. “Pritzker and his allies in the General Assembly know this, but they continue to play their political games and dodge the rules. The question that must be answered is WHY they are doing this, and WHY they are being allowed to do this.”
Stewart says 10 of 14 Prisoner Review Board (PRB) members serve without Senate confirmation. Despite months of requests by the Senate Republican Caucus, the Senate Executive Appointments Committee has repeatedly failed to take up 10 pending Pritzker appointees to the Prisoner Review Board since 2019.
Between March 2019 and April 2019, Gov. Pritzker appointed four individuals to the Prisoner Review Board, which is a body that determines if convicted felons should be released from prison. The Illinois Constitution requires that these appointees be confirmed by the Senate within 60 session days. In March 2021, the clock was approaching the 60 session days and the Senate had failed to take up their confirmation. Additionally, Gov. Pritzker has appointed another six appointees to the Prisoner Review Board between February 2021 to May 2021, none of which have been confirmed either.
“Gov. Pritzker is deliberately manipulating the rules by withdrawing controversial nominees to the Prisoner Review Board and then reappointing them, while they continue to act in their official capacities. This manipulation isn’t just wrong, it’s also dangerous,” Stewart said. “It’s our families and our communities that are at risk. How do they justify the release of these prisoners to the victims of these crimes?”
Among those who have been recently paroled by the Prisoner Review Board are prisoners who have felony convictions for murder, armed robbery, rape, and burglary.