CHICAGO – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois responded the recent debate and inaction in the Illinois Senate regarding the confirmation of members to the Illinois Prison Review Board. The following can be attributed to Ben Ruddell, Criminal Justice Policy Director for the ACLU of Illinois:

The Prison Review Board (PRB) plays a critical role in our state’s criminal legal system and in the lives of thousands of Illinoisans each year. It offers individuals who have already served significant time in prison a meaningful opportunity for consideration of release and a chance to make a positive contribution to their families and communities upon release. That system should not grind to a halt because of a recitation of offenses of those who stood before the PRB versus the life changes and proof of rehabilitation that led to grants of clemency (and parole).  Illinois should not permit Willie Horton era fear mongering to be advanced over the need for justice and compassion in our system. Illinois must take the action needed to prevent the suspension of the meaningful work that the PRB does to foster justice and equity in case outcomes and right size our state’s prison population. Doing harm to individuals across Illinois in a vain attempt to look tough on crime has failed for years.  It must end. 

We encourage the Senate to vote – up or down – on the members of the PRB by assessing the qualities and traits that each candidate brings to the work – not on mischaracterizations of their voting records.  We need a functioning PRB.