High-Ranking Illinois Prison Official Fired due to Criminal History
According to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun Times, Xadrian R. McCraven, 44, has a lengthy criminal history that includes a 1987 conviction for disorderly conduct, a 1989 conviction for illegal possession of a handgun and a conviction in 1998 for reckless conduct related to a domestic battery case. Plus around two dozen arrests in his youth for offenses that ranged from arson and aggravated assault to attempted robbery and drug possession.
McCraven applied for a job with the Chicago Police Department, but was rejected due to his criminal history. He unsuccessfully argued in federal court that his record should not have been considered because the arrests had been expunged.
His lawsuit was dismissed, with the court finding there was no proof the police background check was improper or that the department had discriminated against him due to his race. A magistrate wrote in an August 2000 ruling that the police background investigation found McCraven was known “to be a drug dealer, gang member and a supplier of guns to other gangs.”
But that didn’t stop him from subsequently obtaining jobs with the Chicago Housing Authority Police Department, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
He applied for a position with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) in 2007, and was rejected. Regardless, in 2011, while employed with the DCFS, he was assigned to work in the prison system’s intelligence unit for two months – before the assignment was terminated due to “suitability issues” uncovered in a background check. McCraven had admitted in a job application that he was a gang member in the 1980s, reportedly with the Young Latino Organization Disciples.
According to a wrongful termination suit filed by McCraven, he was fired from the DCFS in 2012 after an investigation found he was “writing and responding to hundreds of lewd and inappropriate emails” at work and had falsified information on a job application.
His lawsuit was dismissed, but McCraven settled a union grievance with state officials in June 2013 and received a 10-day suspension. He also received six months back pay and was transferred to the Department of Corrections, where he landed a $111,432-a-year job as a senior advisor to the IDOC’s chief of parole.
After McCraven’s criminal record was exposed by the Sun Times, IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer said McCraven was placed on paid leave in December 2013 and scheduled for a pre-disciplinary hearing.
“In the hearing, the Department of Corrections will provide its reasoning for seeking discipline against the employee, and the employee can provide his rebuttal,” said Shaer. “If termination is pursued, an employee is suspended without pay pending the termination process,” he added.
McCraven was fired from his position with the IDOC on January 6, 2014 due to “inconsistencies in employment applications.”
Several days later, state Senator Kirk Dillard called on Governor Pat Quinn to remove IDOC director Salvador Godinez in connection with the McCraven scandal. Godinez’s chief of staff had signed off on McCraven’s 2013 hiring despite his criminal record, prior gang membership and a finding that he was not eligible for a position in the IDOC because his nephew was on parole at the time.
“It’s outrageous that former gang members are now running the prisons,” said Dillard. “No matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, from Chicago or Cairo, this is just plain wrong and dangerous.”
Senator Dillard and other lawmakers have questioned whether McCraven obtained his state job positions through political influence. McCraven was hired under former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration; Blagojevich was impeached, removed from office and prosecuted on corruption charges, including soliciting bribes for political appointments. He was sentenced in December 2011 to 14 years in federal prison.
Governor Quinn has expressed his support for Godinez. Meanwhile, two Illinois state legislators – one a former prosecutor and the other a former police officer – have proposed a bill that would prohibit anyone who is “documented to have been a member of a criminal gang” from being hired by the IDOC, State Police, DCFS and Department of Juvenile Justice.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login