Sunday, June 05, 2022


An interesting update from Glenn Loury's newsletter about a prisoner hoping for a parole hearing after 25 years. You could blame the potential backlash or the reason the politicians earned the backlash. But justice is impaired when it becomes political.

Update:  But see the comments for the other side.


Douglas2 said...

Admittance and full-funding for a PhD program with employment benefits is an opportunity that's fleeting -- it is remarkable that he got a deferment for a year already.

So another year in, rather than parole now, could have a huge impact on this fellow's post-prison career.

He's hoping for intervention from Governor or Cook County State’s Attorney, as the parole-board hasn't been meeting. According to Loury the board's been not meeting because of COVID, , but it really isn't that simple. COVID didn't delay the meetings of the IL prisoner-review board, the problem has been that the board lacks enough people to have quorum.

Our discussion is ostensibly about the politics that makes intervention by those two politicians unlikely. But the lack of board members is also a political issue, as nominations have been rejected (or nominees have withdrawn their nominations when they saw that they would have difficulty) in state senate confirmation hearings.

At first glance, it looks like the state senate noticed that suddenly notorious "cop killers" were being paroled, and so now the senate is paying close attention to the records of all appointees before confirming them to the prisoner review board, having acted largely as a rubber-stamp before. This is a bi-partisan roadblock.

The board until recently had a strong majority who were all very strongly of the opinion that individuals who have murdered police officers should serve their complete sentence. The board composition changed with appointments made the current governor, and between the change of board members, a propensity towards lenience in order to reduce prisoner numbers due to COVID, and the aging profile of the typical prisoner coming before the board, the proportion of applicants approved for parole leapt from a meager 10% or so to a not-quite as meager 25%, before they became hamstrung by non-replacement of members who left upon completing their terms on the board.

When I read about the continuing postponement of parole-applicants' hearings, I was incensed as I suppose Glen Loury intended us to be. I think this is undoubtedly a civil-rights problem, but whether any clever lawyer could frame it as a justiceable issue that could get a court to compel Pritzger and/or the senate to get the board filled is a thorny question.

In this case, however, we're to raise the case's profile to prompt extraordinary action in granting this particular prisoner clemency, when it looks like:
a) In the normal course of things he'd have only a small chance of parole even if the board was meeting properly to fully review his case and cause.
b) Foxx is aggressively championing re-sentencing of long-serving offenders to get them released early, but already did not chose this case as one of the worthy ones to bring before a judge.
c) The cases Foxx did bring before judges to get sentences reduced have not done very well, so far no judge has gone along with her team's efforts at getting reduced sentences to long-serving model prisoners.

I made the mistake of looking up the contemporaneous press reports of the kidnapping and murder. In the process I found court rulings from the many long-shot appeals that Pippen has made over the years in attempts to overturn his conviction. He has no qualms about using court resources or other people's time, energy, and money if there's even a slight theoretical sliver of a chance that his freedom might result, but this does not give me any sliver of feeling that I should expend any energy on his behalf.

Fixing the Illinois state prisoner review board, however, is something that is very important and an emergency. It's all about public safety and what is proper for a culture to do about it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Great information. Thanks.