Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzer has not let the Chinese virus crisis go to waste when it comes to lowering the headcount in the Land o’ Lincoln’s prisons. As other states have, Pritzker’s administration told law enforcement officials that they intended to quietly release non-violent offenders because of COVID-19.
The governor didn’t publish any lists or supporting documentation on those who were set free, supposedly for medically compassionate reasons.
However, Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey says that he found a document on the Illinois Department of Corrections website listing 761 inmates that have been released early because of COVID-19 concerns – as well as information on the crimes they’ve committed.
The Center Square has the story of the 761 inmates and their “get out of jail free” cards that the mainstream media seem so reluctant to report.
Illinois Department of Corrections officials confirmed the release of some inmates on a list released by State Rep. John Cabello. However, officials said the list included people who were released for reasons unrelated to the governor’s executive order and the transmission of COVID-19.
The spreadsheet, titled “COVID FINAL list of early exits” listed the names of 761 inmates. The charges included murder, forcible sexual assault, armed robbery, making heroin, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated vehicular hijacking of a handicapped person and other violent crimes. Several of the people, including those convicted of murder, were directly commuted by Pritzker, according to the document.
The data was provided by Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey, who said his office found it on the Illinois Department of Corrections website after an exhaustive search. Subsequent searches turned up no such document.
Someone at IDOC figured out — a little late — that it might be a good idea to take down that document to prevent further embarrassment of the governor. Pritzker also moved to outright commute the sentences of 17 other prisoners in recent days, including seven murderers.
“I don’t disagree with those that say there are those within our prison system that should probably be released,” Downey said. “We were told that these were going to be nonviolent. When you’re talking about armed robberies, murders, criminal sexual assaults, those individuals should not get released early based on the possibility that they could contract COVID.”
State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, released specific data showing some of the names and offenses that were directly commuted by Pritzker, including Brian Harrington, who was convicted of murder in the 2007 slaying of Brad Berogan in Winnebago County. According to the released document, Harrington will turn 28 in July.
“If any of these folks re-offend and hurt somebody else, I will hold J.B. Pritzker personally responsible and I will make it my mission in life to ensure that the family members know that it was J.B. Pritzker that caused them this harm as well,” Cabello said.
Unfortunately, you can’t hold him personally financially responsible.
But state Democrats want to free still more criminals.
Meanwhile, members of Pritzker’s own party are pressuring him to release more non-violent offenders at a higher pace.
“Non-violent.” What could possibly go wrong with releasing more convicts into society?
Sarcasm aside, most of these people probably belong behind bars, not on our streets. And if you needed (yet) another reason to carry every day, even at home, this should provide 778 of them.