(The Center Square) – Fingers continue to point back and forth over the Illinois Prisoner Review Board not having a quorum to conduct business.
The PRB reviews requests from convicts to receive parole. They also review what to do with people who violate their parole. Monday, one PRB member resigned and the Illinois Senate rejected another. Both were appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. That follows last week when senators rejected a separate appointee. That leaves the 15-member board with just six members.
Pritzker blamed Republicans on Tuesday.
"To have Republicans essentially try to tear apart this agency of government, this is what the GQP has been all about, tearing government apart,” Pritzker said during an unrelated news conference in Springfield.
He did not explain what the “GQP” is when asked.
Pritzker said he is in the process of finding new individuals to appoint to constitute the PRB, but again blamed Republicans.
“But it is difficult when it all gets politicized and very highly qualified people get tossed and to attract new people to do that job when the Republicans have highly politicized this thing, much more difficult,” Pritzker said.
But state Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said the governor is promoting a false narrative.
“Because obviously last night, Eleanor Wilson only got 15 votes,” Bryant told The Center Square. “So, 15 out of 59 when there are only 18 Republicans, give me a break.”
She said the governor needs to appoint new members as soon as possible.
“There are plenty of qualified people and I call on the governor today, appoint 10 more members to the [PRB] that are more moderate and he’ll probably get votes across the board in a very bipartisan manner,” Bryant said.
Any appointee can serve on the board for the $90,000 a year position, but their appointment must be approved by the Senate within 60 session days.
Lawmakers are in session through April 8.
The Illinois Prison Project said because the PRB decided Tuesday to postpone its next quarterly clemency hearings scheduled for April 12 to April 15, justice is being delayed "for many other people in prison awaiting the chance to be reunited with loved ones."
"While we're disappointed, we will not be deterred," said Jennifer Soble, executive director of the Illinois Prison Project. "We will continue to zealously advocate for the freedom of our clients."