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*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn caught in a lie

Thursday, Dec 17, 2009

* Yesterday, Gov. Quinn reversed himself and said he knew that the Dept. of Corrections was releasing some prisoners after just a few days in custody. Quinn wouldn’t say, however, why he halted the release program after the AP asked about it. But the governor also claimed that Corrections Director Michael Randle had briefed editorial boards about the program, so it wasn’t a “secret,” as the AP had reported.

Wrong on almost all counts.

The State Journal-Register was one of those editorial boards supposedly “briefed” by Randle, and it claimed today that Director Randle actually talked to the board about a different program.

According to the SJ-R, Randle did not brief the paper on the program recently detailed by the Associated Press, which is called “Meritorious Good Time Push,” or “MGT Push” for short. MGT Push allegedly abandoned Corrections’ unwritten rule that prisoners serve at least 61 days of their sentence. Under MGT Push, some inmates are allowed out of prison “almost immediately.”

From today’s editorial

Under MGT Push, inmates released after serving less than three weeks included those accused of weapons charges, battery and repeat drunken drivers. One DUI offender served 18 days in jail after he hit two cars, hospitalizing one driver for weeks. These don’t sound like nonviolent offenders. In total, more than 850 inmates left prison earlier than they otherwise would have.

This almost amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card. Illinois can implement a cost-effective and safe method for releasing nonviolent prisoners early, but MGT Push reduces the deterrence that going to prison provides against committing crime. It is not a framework the state should be using.

Expect the phrase “get-out-of-jail-free card” to eventually show up in a TV ad.

The close…

Quinn said Wednesday that he signed off on the program. Why? And did he know some inmates convicted of violent offenses would be released?

There needs to be a clear accounting of why this policy was adopted, who signed off on it and how the state will ensure that something similar doesn’t happen in the future.

We don’t have a problem with releasing truly nonviolent inmates in order to help stabilize the state budget. But any inmate release program should closely follow the guidelines Randle talked about in October and ensure the public’s safety isn’t endangered.

The governor needs to tell us the truth about what is going on in his own administration. This is unacceptable.

*** UPDATE *** From the Dan Hynes campaign…

“Pat Quinn has been all over the place since this secret early prisoner release story broke over the weekend, first denying knowledge before saying he did in fact know about the program. The only consistency has been his inconsistency, and today’s State Journal-Register editorial flatly contradicts his shifting story.

“Meanwhile, five days later, the people of Illinois are trying to sift through the confusion and misinformation that the Quinn administration seems to be deliberately sewing. What is clear is that when confronted with a report that the state of Illinois has been secretly releasing hundreds of prisoners — some violent offenders — after virtually no time served, Pat Quinn’s response has been to go into full damage control mode.

“Unfortunately, the damage the Governor seems most concerned with is that to his own political fortunes rather than to public safety, and that is unacceptable. Governor Quinn needs to come clean immediately on this program. We renew our call for the Governor to release a list of everyone released early from prison through this secret program, the crimes for which they were serving time, any previous criminal records, the rationale behind their release, and where these individuals are presently residing.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Obamarama - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Over/under 3PM on a Dan Hynes press release. Takers?

  2. - OneMan - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:34 am:

    So can the list of who got out early be FOIA’d?

  3. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    I’ll take the under!

  4. - Will County Woman - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    What I find most disturbing about the secret release issue is that it was shut down only after the AP reported about the secret. it was not shut down or suspended when 4 seattle area police officers , or whatever part of Washington state they were in, were recently gunned down and killed by a person who had been released early from an arkansas state prison under then arkansas governor huckabee.

    so clearly the decision to shut down the secret early release policy in illinois was not made out of concerns about public safety, contrary to what the governor quinn has said. it was made out of political concerns and was (is) an attempt to do damage control for the sake of winning a primary election. as a voter and resident of illinois i find that very appalling, apart from just being downright intellecually insulting!

    if governor quinn had quietly suspended/shut down the secret early release program when the nation was being held hostage by a cop killer on the loose weeks ago, then i would accept his “public saftety concerns” argument now. but, because the shutdown/suspesion was done only after the AP exposed the secret release program this weekend, I can neither accept nor believe the argument that governor quinn has given.

  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    Quinn is really letting this one get away from him.

    If the program is necessary for budgetary reasons, he should have announced it and blamed the GA for not providing enough revenues.

    It’s bad government to try to pull this off in secret, but it’s even worse politics. Did he think 102 states attorneys were going to let it slide? They run for election, too.

    Obfuscation and refusing to answer questions will provide the necessary oxygen to keep this one burning for a while.

  6. - Nikoli - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    You just know Hynes is going to pounce on this like a starving dog, as well he should. Hynes has to do everything he can to make Quinn look inept. Luckily for him, Quinn seems to be helping him out with that task.

    If Quinn really wants to have any sort of a prayer over the long stretch between now and next November, he can’t keep having these screw ups popping up on a weekly basis.

    The only saving grace he’s got at this point is that the GOP can’t seem to get their act together long enough to find a candidate that doesn’t have the last name “Ryan” who can obtain a commanding lead in the primary. As a downstate GOP, I was really excited by our prospects heading into next year, but the excitement has been dwindling with the lack of a real prominent front-runner.

  7. - Central_IL_farm_boy - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    “The governor needs to tell us the truth about what is going on in his own administration.”

    Assuming, of course, that he actually knows what is actually going on at any given time. As we’ve seen (and already knew!) our Governor is much better at talking about where State government should be going than he is at actually operating the controls to get it there.

  8. - One of the 35 - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:44 am:

    WCW nailed it. Quinn suspended the program for the wrong reason; for political cover and not for public safety.

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:48 am:

    Question: If Quinn knew about the program from Randle and didn’t stop it until later, he implicitly gave his approval. Why does then order or need a “top-to-bottom” review?

    Here it is: The Director proposed and I let him do it.

  10. - Lake Voter - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:49 am:

    Here is the red meat. If one of these idiots released goes on and does something real bad, a la Oregon, Quinn is toast. What is the over/under of this happening before the November election. Pat ‘I am a populous governor’ Quinn really screwed up on this concept.

  11. - Hank - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:52 am:

    I wonder how much of the detail he did know. I caught the CBS reporter asking him about the program five different times the other day. Quinn stood there unable to speak, blinking into the camera. If the reporter’s questions had been punches Quinn would have looked like the Italian PM. Not pretty

  12. - cassandra - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    I don’t know enough about corrections policy to know if MGT Push was a good idea or not. I do know that nationally as well as locally, the costs of incarceration are increasing, reportedly even outpacing education expenditures in some states. If they aren’t to grow even further, we have to find alternatives. And repeat DUI offenders are likely seriously addicted…meaning a stay in jail is unlikely to be a deterrent. What you really want to do is restrict their time in cars–and put them in cars that won’t start if they’ve been drinking. In light of technological advances, putting them in jail seems like a backward solution…and unlikely to stop them from drinking and driving again.

    Quinn’s handling of this early release matter, however, highlights his similarity to his predecessor.Like our Blago, he is apparently more interested in the feel-good aspects of the job–ribbon-cutting, public pontificating. telling people how much he cares about them and about Illinois. The easy part. And apparently he doesn’t have competent aides to back him on the details–or if he does, he doesn’t pay attention to them. My guess is that he didn’t lie…he probably only had the fuzziest notion of his own administration’s early release programs. And nobody to call on for the facts before he spoke too soon.

    I never thought I’d be wishing for Brad Tusk back.
    In the early days, at least our Blago had the sense to have somebody with a brain running the
    day to day operations of the state.

  13. - anon - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 12:06 pm:

    Wow, this just keeps getting worse for Quinn. This guy has no idea what he’s doing. If Hynes approaches this the right way, he could get some major traction. If Quinn survives, the GOP will eat him alive on this.

    How can someone this inept make it to the Governor’s office. Only in Illinois…

  14. - Frank - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 12:12 pm:

    I’m a fan of Quinn’s and look forward to voting for him, but c’mon, he’s gotta get his crap together. His inner circle of decision-makers seem to be in over their heads.

    He’s probably going to survive through the primary, but he better bring in some better people or the screw-ups will keep piling up to the point of critical mass, which will be fatal by the Fall. Get some experience government managers who understand how to frame issues politically!

  15. - Concern - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 12:14 pm:

    At what point do Dem powers-that-be worry that this has mortally wounded Quinn for the general?

    Even if he can stumble through the primary bleeding badly, a GOP opponent will make hay.

    Also as many have pointed out, anytime anyone released under this program commits a new crime between now and Nov, it will be back in the headlines.

  16. - B - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 12:31 pm:

    Quinn’s misdeeds now include sewing? Might seem picky, but I know the Hynes crew is smarter than this malaprop might indicate

  17. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    Although this is a campaign issue, it won’t hurt bad because no one got hurt. It is very lucky for Quinn that this policy wasn’t exposed after one of the early release beneficiaries wasn’t found drunk out of his head after taking out a car of kids or seniors. That could have been fatal to the campaign as well as the victims.

    I am not sure who is running the Quinn campaign but to approve early release of prisoners a few months before an election is about as stupid as it gets.

    BTW, do the early release prisoners now have to go back to jail or are they in the clear. If they get to stay out, it still could bite bad because it is only a matter of time before one of them screws up bad. It is in their nature.

  18. - Budget Watcher - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    …I never thought I’d be wishing for Brad Tusk back. In the early days, at least our Blago had the sense to have somebody with a brain running the
    day to day operations of the state.

    Remember Cassandra, it was the early days of Blago, years 2003 and 2004 when most of the Stu Levive, Joe Cari, pension bond extortion stuff was happening. All under Bradley T’s watchful eye. I remember a Crain’s Business article in which young Mr. Tusk boasted about knowing just about everything that was going on in state government. He subsequently turned into Sergeant Schultz pretty quickly once the feds showed up.

    Back to the Quinn misreprentations, I don’t think voters are presently paying attention to Quinn’s many inconsistencies. And no one seems to pay any attention at all to Dan Hynes.

  19. - Wondering - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    Wondering if Jesse White is thinking he endorsed too soon?

  20. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    Well shut my mouth. Who’da thunk a politician lying?

  21. - Big Policy Nerd - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    Dan Hynes was on Chicago Tonight on Tuesday night and couldn’t even get his facts or his talking points straight about this situation. Elizabeth Brackett didn’t let up on him and called him out on it. Hynes got flustered and had trouble spinning his way out of it. The interview is worth a look for a good laugh.

  22. - Ray del Camino - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:19 pm:

    Most of this stuff is Inside Baseball for nerds like us. Out in the real world, it’s the holidays, everybody’s shopping, nobody’s watching, and the Feb primary will be here before Dan Hynes knows what hit him.

  23. - lucky56 - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    quinns media team is severely lacking and should probably go. mr reed has no pr experience to speak of and mrs jentz is just in over her head. yet another example of incompetence within the gov office.

  24. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:37 pm:

    Try and follow along, BPN. What Elizabeth Brackett referred to in that interview is the very statement that is now being called a lie by the SJ-R.

  25. - Burrito Bandit - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    @ Anon 1:45/ WCW

    Sure, Quinn took a shot in the SJR. But Hynes had a chance to land an easy one in that interview. The guy is a robot who needs some passion and some coaching.

  26. - Jill - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    Did the press release really spell “sowing”, “sewing”? Because that’s sad.

  27. - cassandra - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 2:50 pm:

    I don’t know what Tusk knew or didn’t know in 2003 and 2004, but I do think he could have come up with a coherent paragraph distinguishing between and explaining the basis for the two early release programs, secret or not. Apparently, Quinn’s executive staff didn’t, didn’t care, or maybe he didn’t ask. My point is the same. When it comes to choosing between reading and digesting the executive summary or making a public appearance, however trivial the issue, it appears that our Pat will always make the public appearance.

  28. - Richard Afflis - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 3:31 pm:

    All Quinn had to say was to the effect that he messed up and will clean it up. He goes around telling anyone who will listen how he is honest. Just be honest about it. This changing stories stuff is not what we do or should expect from him given how much he puts himself on the honesty pedestal.

  29. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 3:51 pm:

    Lies: Quinn 03
    Blago: 5734…

  30. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 4:07 pm:

    ===”…and where these individuals are presently residing.”===

    Ugh. Memo to the Hynes staffer who wrote this: presently means soon, it does not mean currently.

  31. - Cindy Lou - Thursday, Dec 17, 09 @ 4:09 pm:

    I don’t know, actually I’m thinking a bit of ‘having cake and eating it too’ here.

    Looking back at the TAB report under DOC section the ’savings’ short term idea was suggesting judges have the ability to have not only the stats on the offender but also the cost the actual senting off would impose and then to weigh the cost while deciding sentancing.

    In place of, it appears that DOC/Quinn decided to take on this roll by themselves via secret release of who they (DOC/Quinn) decided did not justify the sentance/cost in their opinions whether correct or wrong in that opinion, out the offenders go. Makes one wonder why we have sentancing stage with judge, DOC/Quinn can just decide, which could likely leave unsuspecting citizens at their mercy being it’s ’secret’.

  32. - humbled 1 - Friday, Dec 18, 09 @ 10:16 am:

    What happened to the old fashion idea of holding wrong-doers accountable for their actions?
    Children used to be taught that actions have consequences, good and bad..and the bad had to be lived with.

    What happen to ‘living with integrity?’ Has everything boiled down to looking out for self regardless of the cost??

    Seems like a sad commentary for mankind.

    Please someone of stature step forward..!

    Why isn’t this a voter requirement??

    I’m not interested in casting stones or looking for fault…it’s about expecting honor..isn’t it?

  33. - Mary lou - Friday, Dec 18, 09 @ 2:01 pm:

    The rotten thing is Quinn has now screwed all the non violent offenders and still costing the state unnecessary money. Why did he not have the proper stipulations put on this program before he let it go into effect. He is not someone I would vote for. He is incompetant! Why did violent offenders have sentence of only a year to begin with?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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