Senate Passes Legislation Aimed at Improving Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board

In response to repeated serious issues with Governor Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board (PRB), including a recent high-profile tragedy where a young boy was murdered by someone the panel had recently released, the Illinois Senate passed legislation designed to reform the controversial body. State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville), who has worked in recent years to expose issues with the troubled PRB, was a chief co-sponsor of the legislation along with Senate President Don Harmon.

“The PRB functioned reasonably well for years, including through multiple Governors from different parties, until Governor Pritzker came along,” said Senator Plummer. “This legislation represents the General Assembly trying to tackle the mess that Pritzker has created.”

The Prisoner Review Board is tasked with deciding whether or not to release certain individuals, typically those convicted of very serious crimes. Under Governor Pritzker, the board voted to release inmates at a much higher percentage than under previous governors, including several high-profile cases involving convicted murderers. In fact, Governor Pritzker had even appointed a convicted double murderer to serve on the PRB, who then voted to release an inmate he had served time with. In March, the PRB released an individual who had an outstanding order of protection against him. That man then killed an 11-year old boy who was trying to defend his mother from the man.

The legislation sponsored by Plummer, House Bill 681, contains numerous reforms for the PRB, including several ideas previously proposed by Senate Republicans. The bill provides protections for victims, including notifications for when prisoners will be up for release, as well as creating a better process for victims to file impact statements.

The legislation also creates new qualification standards for members and a task force to study issues with the board.

“While this legislation is a major step in the right direction, truly fixing the PRB will require a Governor who appoints qualified leadership to the board and provides them with a new direction,” added Plummer.

Jason Plummer

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