FILE - Jim Durkin

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin R-Western Springs

(The Center Square) – House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, alongside Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara and former Chicago Police Department Officer Robert Mizera, criticized Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a Tuesday news conference for his handling of the Prisoner Review Board. 

Mizera, a former CPD officer, was shot and injured by Kensley Hawkins in 1980. Hawkins later would be convicted of the murder of a 65-year-old man and was sentenced to almost 100 years in prison.

He is now out of prison after being commuted by Pritzker and his appointed Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

"Mr. Hawkins was zealously represented by Department Counsel Lisa Schoedel at Jenner & Block, as part of [Illinois Prison Project's] pro bono program," an April 28 statement from Jenner & Block said. "Ms. Schoedel's commitment and dedication to Mr. Hawkins and his case paid off: Last week, she received a call from the Illinois Governor’s Office, telling her that Mr. Hawkins would be coming home."

Mizera said he learned of his attacker's release via an email and has had no further discussion with Pritzker or his administration about the decision.

"On April 22nd, 2021, I was informed by email that Mr. Hawkins had been released from prison with no reason given," Mizera said at Tuesday's news conference. "The governor did not call me, he did not ask me what I thought and he probably did not care, so that's my dealing with Governor Pritzker and his release of people who obviously should still be in prison."

Catanzara asked the residents of Illinois to think about what would happen to them in this situation.

“If an officer cannot get justice, and their families cannot get justice, what does the average person think is going to happen to the monsters that murder their loved ones?” Catanzara said. 

Durkin, R-Western Springs, called the clemency a sign of disrespect to law enforcement.

"Today I am here to talk about Governor Pritzker's continuing lack of respect and continuing attack on our police officers, those currently on the force and those who have already served, and the victims of crime in this state," Durkin said.

Pritzker has granted clemency to more than 20 individuals previously convicted of crimes since taking office.

Staff Reporter

Andrew Hensel has years of experience as a reporter and pre-game host for the Joliet Slammers, and as a producer for the Windy City Bulls. A graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University and Illinois Media School, Andrew lives in the south suburbs of Chicago.