(The Center Square) – The Illinois Prisoner Review Board now has a quorum and it’s expected the number of clemency requests will be heavy.
The PRB reviews parole requests and what to do with people who violate conditions of release.
Earlier this year, state senators rejected several of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s appointees to the board, which didn’t have enough members to make decisions.
PRB General Counsel Kahalah Clay said Tuesday at a Legislative Audit Commission hearing that’s changed.
“Thankfully we have had several board members added over the last couple of months and weeks and we have been back up to a quorum for some time,” Clay said.
Six members have been added by the governor since as early as May this year. Members must be confirmed by the Senate within 60 session days. There are still three vacancies on the 15-member board.
Pritzker has been criticized for appointing PRB members and then withdrawing them before the deadline for Senate approval only to then reappoint them.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, told PRB Chair Edith Crigler that it’s like a game of “cat and mouse.”
“The response is that some of this is due to a comprehensive vetting process that is done for appointees, what does that vetting process entail,” Barickman asked.
“Senator, I have no idea,” Crigler said. “We don’t do the vetting. The governor’s office does the vetting.”
Barickman requested future meetings with the governor’s office and the PRB to determine the vetting process.
Since COVID, there has been a spike in the number of clemency hearings. Nichole Damhoff, PRB chief administrative officer, said the number won’t be as high as the 4,000 estimated for this year, but will still be elevated.
“We’re definitely on track for about 1,500 to 2,000 just in 2022,” she said.
The most recent audit of the PRB found a variety of issues with the agency, including lax oversight over state property and contractual services.