Governor hides Prisoner Review Board appointees from public, skirts constitutional requirement

Governor Pritzker is using a procedural maneuver to allow his appointees to the Prisoner Review Board to continuously serve without undergoing the constitutional required confirmation process said Senate Republican members of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee. State Senators Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville), Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), and Steve McClure, (R-Springfield) shed light on this shady practice during a press conference in Springfield on Monday.

A total of four unconfirmed Prisoner Review Board members have been serving for well over two years, making decisions on whether prisoners, such as convicted murders, rapists, sexual predators, etc., should be granted parole and released from prison.

Back in March and April 2019, Governor Pritzker appointed four individuals to the Board. According to the Illinois Constitution, these appointees must be confirmed by the Illinois Senate within 60 session days of their appointment. In March 2021, those 60 days were approaching, but instead of the Senate Executive Committee taking up these individuals, the Governor withdrew their nomination and then reappointed them just days later—resetting the 60 session-day clock.

“What we have here is an intentional tactic by the Governor to skirt the process in an effort to hide these individuals from scrutiny, and the Senate Executive Appointments Committee is covering for him,” said Senator Jason Plummer, Minority Spokesperson for the Senate Executive Appointments Committee. “How much longer are we going to allow these individuals to serve without ensuring that they go through the appropriate and constitutionally required process? With just days left of session, the Chair of the Committee must schedule a hearing immediately.”

This week, the Senate Executive Committee will hold its 11th committee hearing since the Prisoner Review Board appointments were first made. Since then, 98 other appointees have been nominated and confirmed to various boards and commissions; another 82 appointees have appeared in front of the committee and are currently on the Senate Calendar; and 44 more are scheduled to appear in committee on Tuesday, May 25.

“Over 200 nominees have been appointed and heard in Committee since these appointments have been made. It’s becoming obvious that a clear manipulation of the process is taking place for these appointees,” said Senator Terri Bryant. “This isn’t okay, this isn’t responsible government, and this little maneuver isn’t what our Constitution was designed to allow.”

“These appointees are making life-altering, serious, and potentially dangerous decisions and have been for over two years—all while never testifying before the Committee and never being confirmed by the Senate,” said. Senator Steve McClure. “We have an obligation to uphold our constitutional duty. We must take up these individuals before leaving Springfield at the end of the month to prevent them from serving unconfirmed for another one or even two years.”

In an effort to ensure that governors cannot skirt the appointment process in the future, legislation has been filed to require that members of the Prisoner Review Board are confirmed by the Senate in a timely fashion. Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 1475 would require the Senate to take up Prisoner Review Board appointments within 30 session days or 90 calendar days after the appointment is made, whichever occurs first. Failure to confirm these appointments within this time period would result in an automatic rejected appointment and that person would not be allowed to be reappointed for another 2 years.

The Senate Executive Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 25 at 8:30 a.m. None of the Governor’s Prisoner Review Board appointees are scheduled to testify.

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