“As of today, executive assistant to the director Sergio Molina, chief of staff Jim Reinhart and Northern Regional Supervisor Jac Charlier are no longer State of Illinois employees,” said DOC spokeswoman Sharyn Elman, who refused to comment further.
The firings were likely the result of a controversial, secretive early release program called “Meritorious Good Time Push” (MGT Push), which had resulted in the early release of about 1,745 state prisoners, some of whom had been incarcerated for as little as three weeks. Hundreds of the MGT Push releasees had been convicted of violent offenses, including 21 convicted of murder, attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder. A separate, publicized program resulted in the early release of another 233 non-violent offenders. Some of the prisoners who were released early went on to commit additional crimes.
Illinois Comptroller Dan Hayes made the early release programs a major campaign issue when running against Governor Quinn in the primary. Quinn suspended the programs in December 2009; since then, critics have been calling for a shake-up at the DOC.
The only problem is that the wrong people may have been sacked. Molina, who was given no explanation for his firing, noted that neither he, Reinhart nor Charlier were responsible for the release programs.
“The director stood with the governor and accepted full responsibility for the early release program, and that’s precisely where the responsibility lies,” said Molina.
Apparently acknowledging that responsibility, DOC Director Randle announced his retirement on Sept. 2, 2010, soon after the release of a commission report that found serious flaws in MGT Push. “The MGT Push program was a mistake,” the report stated. “Although focused on reducing costs during a fiscal crisis, it failed to accomplish the overriding goals of the state’s Code of Corrections: protecting the public’s safety and restoring inmates to useful citizenship.”
The report recommended that prisoners be required to spend at least 60 days in custody and demonstrate good behavior to receive credits; that the DOC improve its accountability and transparency in regard to early release programs; and that the DOC develop better communication with local officials concerning early releases.
Following his resignation, Randle will reportedly head a non-profit community corrections facility in Cleveland, Ohio at less than half the salary he earned as DOC director. Governor Quinn appointed Gladyse Taylor as acting director of the DOC to replace Randle on September 3, 2010.
Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, www.myfoxchicago.com, www.illinoistimes.com, Chicago Tribune
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