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*** UPDATED 1x *** QUINN APPOINTS GLADYSE TAYLOR; Editorials regret Randle’s departure, point fingers at Brady

Friday, Sep 3, 2010

Posted by Barton Lorimor

***UPDATE 1x (1:15 p.m.) ***
That didn’t take long…

Quinn named Gladyse Taylor, a ranking official in the Department of Corrections, as acting director of the agency. She had been named acting assistant director in May and previously served as deputy director of the governor’s budget office. […]

A Chicago native, Taylor said in a statement she hoped to implement programs that would reduce the cycle of inmates who repeatedly bounce in and out of prisons.

*** End update ***

You probably remember from yesterday that Gov. Pat Quinn accepted a letter of resignation from state Corrections chief Michael Randle effective Sept. 17.

It was also revealed yesterday that Randle has been offered a position in Ohio…

Randle will head a community corrections facility for the not-for-profit group Oriana House in Cleveland. […]

Oriana executive vice president Bernie Rochford says he’s unconcerned about Randle’s Illinois experience.

He says Randle maintains a good reputation in Ohio. Randle was assistant director of the state prison system there.

The SJ-R editorial board was skeptical in its editorial about Randle’s resignation. They want to know more about what happened to MGT…

There is no disputing that, while Randle was at the helm of IDOC, the early release program known as MGT-Push (named for “Meritorious Good Time”) became a confusing administrative tangle that greatly embarrassed the administration. It’s still not clear what Randle knew or didn’t know about prisoners released under the program and where exactly in the IDOC bureaucracy things went wrong. Some, most notably Quinn’s Republican opponent, have said that alone should have led to Randle’s immediate firing.

But the problems faced by Illinois’ corrections system neither started nor ended with the now-suspended MGT-Push program.

Because of the politics surrounding Randle and how the early-release program has been used against Quinn’s campaign, you had to figure this would come up…

Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday that he did not force his embattled corrections chief to resign over a botched prisoner early release program and defended Michael Randle’s job performance during his short time in Illinois. […]

“I think highly of Mike Randle,” said Quinn, who addressed the departure at a Forest Park event welcoming troops home from Iraq.

The governor cited Randle’s major changes to the state’s troubled supermax prison and focus on ways to cut recidivism as plusses of his tenure.

“He admitted he made a mistake, he took responsibility for that mistake and I took accountability,” Quinn said of the early release program. “But you don’t just dwell on mistakes. You correct mistakes and you move forward.”

Naturally, the Brady Camp was there to attack…

Brady spokesman Patty Schuh said Randle should have been fired “long ago.” She said letting Randle leave without any discipline shows the Quinn administration is a “revolving door of reckless ineptitude.”

But both the Tribune and Sun-Times editorial boards flipped the issue and blamed Randle’s departure on Brady.

The Sun-Times…

As of Thursday, we really do have an early release scandal in Illinois’ prison system.

The scandal is the early departure of state Corrections Director Michael Randle.

Randle, a forward-thinking administrator, had good ideas about improving the state’s dismal prison system, but became a victim this week of election-year critics who sought to portray him as inept.

Gov. Quinn announced Thursday that Randle is resigning as of Sept. 17. The Republican candidate for governor, state Sen. Bill Brady, had criticized Randle for an essentially manufactured scandal over a “meritorious good time” program that moved up release dates for some prisoners, including some with violent histories, by up to 61 days.

And the Tribune challenged Brady to come up with a better way to save money…

Acting on Quinn’s directive to cut costs, Randle created MGT Push, an extension of the state’s existing early release program called Meritorious Good Time. Inmates were given credit for good behavior, which translates into shortened sentences, before they even arrived in prison. This made some of them eligible for release after as little as 11 days. On average, they got out 36 days earlier, not because they’d earned a break but because Illinois is broke. Of roughly 1,750 who benefited from the program, more than 400 already are back in prison.

We’re all lucky it didn’t play out much, much worse. But we take no joy in Randle’s departure. This isn’t a good time to be chief of anything in Illinois. He arrived a little over a year ago with a big reputation and some good ideas, and he deserves credit for quickly addressing questions about the warehousing of mentally ill inmates at the state’s only supermax prison. But he’ll be remembered for MGT Push.[…]

Quinn’s Republican rival, Bill Brady, has had a lot to say about MGT Push. What he hasn’t done is tell us what a Gov. Brady would do instead. He’s promised not to raise taxes and vowed to cut state spending by 10 percent, but so far the only expendable item he’s identified in the prison budget is cable television. That’s not going to get the job done.

Related…

* Nice guys finish last; Pat Quinn tries to win votes by being honest about bad news

* Quinn: Prisons chief Michael Randle wasn’t forced out

* State Head of Corrections Takes Job in Ohio

* Quinn Says He Didn’t Force D.O.C. Director Out

* Randle Resignation Points To Political Problems For Quinn

* Illinois: Corrections Chief Leaving

* Gov. Quinn’s embattled prisons chief resigns

* Quinn on Corrections: ‘We will march on’

* Rich Whitney: The Best Choice for True Conservatives?

* Underdogs or Not, Write-In Candidates Press On

* Lots of Lawmakers on the Ballot, Few Races Close

* Candidates discuss state’s disabled

* Candidates talk about solutions to state deficit

* New Cook County ethics proposal aimed at Berrios

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

19 Comments
  1. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    Hey let’s start with calling on NoTaxBill to give the name of his DOC chief, we are guessing he will go with former Cellini “security” honocho and Jim Sacia palsie — Larry Trent!

    Good Choice NOTaxBill
    BTW anyone heard from Daddy’s Little Deduction lately — news wires have been devoid of reports of first pitch tosses, etc.
    What DOES Jason do now that the minor league season is over?


  2. - Niles Township - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:03 pm:

    The Chicago spotlight gets stronger on his wacking of Quinn while offfering no solutions of his own. Post-Labor day this will only increase.


  3. - moby - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:29 pm:

    Truth be told: The whole early release issue was a sham, and now it has cost a fine man his job. Nobody was released before they were supposed to, nobody was hurt because of it, this was not a secret scheme, and MGT has existed for decades. Defense attorneys and prosecutors alike take account of MGT when they agree upon sentences, and MGT-push, released minor offenders an average total of just 36 days early. Many people, including IDOC officials, lawyers, reform advocates and simple citizens (like me), have tried to set the record straight, but usually without avail. Now a duplicitous political culture and compliant press has now cost a good and talented man his job, and the state a reformer it desperately needs.


  4. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    make no mistake randle was forced out by quinn. think about this a man with randle’s qualifications takes a job in ohio at 1/3 his salary, 50,000 vs 150,000 as head of DOC.
    quinn is Pogo who said,” We have found the enemy and it is us”


  5. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    Sun-Times editorial is pretty good today on the Randle issue. There really isn’t any way around it: this guy accomplished a lot in 14 months. And here we have pushed out an extremely hard-working and accomplished reformer, and now we are back with all the same problems and the same two solutions: either reduce the prison population OR pay a lot more in taxes to keep people in longer for no public safety gain. We have no choice but to reduce recidivism–it prevents crime and reduces future incarceration and saves money. Now, we have to start climbing up another mountain of sand. Good job Brady. Good job Quinn. Great job media for your in-depth coverage of the crisis in IDOC prisons.


  6. - Niles Township - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:40 pm:

    By the way, a special thank you to Barton for keeping the blog going even on a Friday of a holiday weekend.


  7. - Malcolm Young - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    Randle’s departure is a great loss. But the way in which his leaving came about is an even bigger tragedy: for corrections, for decent government in Illinois, and for the taxpayers in this state.

    From the start, news coverage inaccurately portrayed the MGT-Push program as ’secret,’ poorly conceived, and dangerous. It was none of those things and to this day there isn’t a case that proves otherwise.

    Here’s the loss: Illinois is in terrible shape financially. With Randle’s reforms, Corrections was taking the first steps to reduce the cost of corrections while serving public interests along lines that are working in other states. By failing to support even the most modest reform, of which MGT-Push was an example, and by making reform a political liability, this state’s media and politicians have committed the state to move in the direction of high incarceration, ineffective crime policies, and big and wasted corrections budgets. Fine if you got the money, but you don’t.

    Here’s a link to a longer piece I wrote, published by the Tribune:

    http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2010/08/early-release-programs-in-illinois-another-perspective.html#more


  8. - MrJM - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:43 pm:

    Kwame Raoul said it best: “Criminal justice reform is not an easy political issue because you can do something right and put a good policy in place, but it’s never going to be perfect. You can have a program that’s 99 percent effective, but it’s going to be one guy that’s going to make the news and it’s going to be used in the campaign.”

    – MrJM


  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 12:44 pm:

    dan you are on the money great post When oh wen are we going to really address the problems in DOC if we dont it iwll bankrupt this state. A few citizens like Dan are crying in the wind but keep on Dan climbing those sand mountains it will pay off someday not today but someday have faith and keep walkijng even if all politicans and media wont listen


  10. - cassandra - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:12 pm:

    Quinn should have stopped at the thanks and goodbye statement. Running around saying I didn’t fire him, I didn’t fire him is so not-gubernatorial and it keeps the matter in the news longer than it needs to be.

    Brady should ratchet down the rhetoric now. After all, if he wins, he will, I hope, bring in new
    chiefs and top level staff for most if not all of the state agencies under his control. That’s what usually happens when the governor’s office changes parties. One would expect high level state employees to be sending out resumes at this point in time–especially given the anti-incumbent climate. Mr. Randle is obviously talented, and his early departure may be a signal of his value as an executive. And, of course, it’s one less firing Mr. Brady would have to do if he wins.

    Instead of beating dead horses, Mr. Brady needs to look at that video of Jan Brewer melting down in her political debate and practice, practice, practice for his own debate with Quinn, who is not a bad debater.In a close race, these debates could make or break either principal candidate.


  11. - Barton Lorimor - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:33 pm:

    cassandra,

    Quinn was probably asked by reporters if he fired Randle. The guv didn’t want to talk about Randle towards the end.


  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:35 pm:

    Unless I missed something, the Trib and Sun-Times weren’t actively supportive of Randle in the months after Quinn threw him under the bus. Why the glowing eulogies now?


  13. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    “* Nice guys finish last; Pat Quinn tries to win votes by being honest about bad news”

    Our boy Paddy must be a reallllly nice guy since he has soooo much bad news as a result of his administration.

    Toast-57 and counting.


  14. - Bob - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:48 pm:

    If you start taking inmate privileges away, sooner or later, there will be nothing left for them to lose. You don’t want to be managing prisoners who have nothing to lose.

    Cable television is a great bargaining chip for good behavior–just like weights, visits, commissary, and outside details. If you start tinkering with it, you had better be prepared.


  15. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 1:49 pm:

    wordslinger:
    Sun-Times did have actually have a glowing editorial about him a few months back. Maybe April. They archive that stuff after 2 weeks and it becomes impossible to find or I would post the link.

    The Tribune, well…..the Tribune is the Tribune.


  16. - cover - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 2:10 pm:

    At least the Trib asked a legitimate question of candidate Brady, and recognized the current challenge facing anyone in a leadership role in state government.

    Bob @1:48pm, you mentioned weights as one of the inmate perks. Many years ago (I think even pre-Fox News), comedian Dennis Miller went on a rant about prisoners having access to weight rooms, saying that prisons should have such rooms - spelled WAIT, as in “get in the cell and wait”.

    Of course, that would require the state to build more (unafforable) prison capacity unless it undertakes some kind of a dramatic reform. Maybe Illinois should legalize marijuana and tax it, turning that drug from a prison cost-driver into a new revenue source. I don’t see that as the sole answer to a $13 billion state budget problem, but it could certainly help.


  17. - Bob - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 2:36 pm:

    Cover–I agree. Legal marijuana is going to save corrections more money than yanking the cable tv.


  18. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 4:32 pm:

    Gladyse Taylor is the best option? Seriously?


  19. - Demoralized - Friday, Sep 3, 10 @ 4:45 pm:

    She is more than acceptable until after the election. She is capable of keeping the department operating for at least a few months. I don’t know enough about her to determine if she should ever move beyond “Acting” Director, but what I know of her gives me no pause in this appointment. Remember folks, when things like this happen, especially at election time, somebody has to mind the store in the interim.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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