* Oh, yeah, this’ll help a lot. I’m positive, even. From a press release…
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the creation of an inter-agency task force to ease the impact that the closure of Pontiac Correctional Center will have on the community, including businesses and local governments. The Task Force will pool all available and necessary state resources to preserve the economic well-being and quality of life for Pontiac and surrounding communities.
“I am creating this Task Force to develop real solutions and find ways to help the Pontiac community during this transition, and give them the help they need so people can support their families and pay the bills during these tough economic times,” said Governor Blagojevich. “By bringing together representatives from the state’s agencies and local leaders, we will be able to look at the issue in detail and utilize a wide array of resources to help the Pontiac community as it goes through this transition.”
Look, I’m not a big fan of using prisons for economic development, and the Pontiac prison is decades past its prime. But to knock the legs out from under a town by moving a prison that’s been there for over a hundred years and then making an empty gesture like this is truly insulting.
* Now, onto some even more troubling (and related) news.
Suspicion has been brewing for months that Gov. Blagojevich was sitting on dozens of pardon and commutation applications for fear that he might pardon the “wrong” person and that would come back to haunt him.
Ironically, at the same time, I’ve been hearing behind the scenes murmurs that the Department of Corrections’ parole office was deliberately refusing to revoke parole for offenders for fear of prison overcrowding (exacerbated by lack of staff) and jacking up the recidivism rate (which would create more press problems). These sources have insisted that a tragedy was imminent.
Well, we appear to have our tragedy, and it’s a doozy…
Busted for what police said was a rock of cocaine on the driver’s seat of his car, William Balfour could have been spending the past few months behind bars for a parole violation.
The 27-year-old felon was instead allowed to remain free and is now considered a suspect in the deaths of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
On the day the victims were fatally shot and the young boy went missing, Balfour told his parole agent he had missed a meeting because he was baby-sitting, records show. […]
A parole supervisor declined to issue a warrant to revoke Balfour’s parole after the arrest, records show.
“Per supervisor … no warrant,” the report reads. “Agent to monitor offender, impose sanctions.”
Corrections Department spokesman Derek Schnapp said officials who reviewed the cocaine-possession case against Balfour determined “the evidence that was presented during that time wouldn’t have necessarily warranted a violation.” […]
However, a felony arrest usually is sufficient reason for corrections officials to revoke parole, said Thomas Peters, a Chicago criminal defense attorney who represents parolees.
This requires a full legislative investigation, with subpoena power. We need to know what’s really going on at the DoC. Now.