Illinois Public Media News



Illinois Public Radio - Illinois Public Media News - August 10, 2012

Former Inmates Not Surprised Quinn Keeping Reporters Out of Prisons

Story by Robert Wildeboer

Inmates recently released from prisons in Illinois say they're not surprised that Gov. Pat Quinn won't let reporters in to see conditions.

Chris Clingingsmith just completed seven years behind bars for driving drunk. He lost his wife, his house, his cars and his motorbike, but he’s glad he got caught when he did because he would have been in a much worse situation than he’s in now if he had stayed on the streets and hurt someone.

He said prison isn't supposed to be fun, but the Vandalia prison doesn’t meet even basic standards. He said he wouldn't even house a dog in the kind of conditions men are enduring in basements at the minimum security institution.

Chicago Public Radio has been asking to visit the prison for several months, but Gov. Pat Quinn has said no.

“They don't want you to see firsthand what we're telling you,” Clingingsmith said. “I have no reason to lie.  I'm not in there anymore so they can't do anything to me.  If you walked in there, I'm not going to exaggerate, you would probably just go wow, they actually house people in these areas.  You would be amazed.  You would think that's above and beyond punishment.”

Clingingsmith said a lot of the men housed at Vandalia are getting very mad. Clingingsmith said the lawmakers who oversee the prisons need to get to Vandalia so they know what’s going on.

Gov. Quinn said he wants to look into the conditions at some of Illinois' minimum-security prisons. A watchdog group and former inmates have reported deplorable conditions at the prisons in Vienna and Vandalia.

Those reports indicate some areas were overrun with rats and roaches, and men slept in rooms that flooded every time it rained. But despite repeated requests, Quinn says he won’t let reporters in to see the conditions firsthand.

"Yeah, well I don't believe in that. I think that it's important that -- when it comes to our security of our prisons, I go with the correctional office -- the director that I have at the Department of Corrections. Security comes first and it isn't a country club," Quinn said.

Quinn said he will look into the conditions, and would only say if reforms are needed. He wants to be sure they're done "properly."

Quinn is currently working on closing some prisons, but the union representing workers opposes those closures, saying overcrowding will get worse.

Illinois spends more than a billion dollars a year on prisons.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 09, 2012

Carjacking at U of I Parking Deck

University of Illinois Campus police report a carjacking Thursday morning, at a parking deck on the north end of campus.

Lieutenant Roy Acree says it happened around 7:10 AM, to a woman in the parking deck at Goodwin and University in Urbana.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 09, 2012

Court OKs Suit Against Normal School’s Inaction on Sex Abuse

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

The Illinois Supreme Court has allowed a lawsuit accusing McLean County school officials of not doing enough to keep an abusive teacher from being hired in Urbana.

31-year old Jon White was teaching at Colene Hoose Elementary School in Normal when parents complained about him abusing their daughters. He wasn't charged with a crime at the time, but the school did suspend him. White went on to abuse at least eight girls at a new job at Thomas Paine Elementary School in Urbana.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: courts, crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 08, 2012

George Ryan Gets Early Prison Release Date

A lawyer for George Ryan says the ex-Illinois governor is eligible to be released from federal prison on a work release program.

Ryan could be released to a halfway house as soon as Jan. 30. He will be required to get a job - or be appointed to one - and he will be free to work during the day, but he'll have to return to the facility at night.

Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson is Ryan's attorney.

"This is a program that's widely available for federal prisoners," Thompson said. "It's nothing special for Gov. Ryan."

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said it is time for Ryan to get out of prison.

"I never felt he was a threat to society if he was walking on the streets," Cullerton said. "I think he, obviously, served a lot of time for his offense."

News of Ryan's release comes just days after a federal court struck down another one his legal appeals, but Thompson said his client is grateful.

"Any person would be grateful for any chance at even partial freedom and the chance to integrate back into society," Thompson said.

George Ryan has already served five years of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for corruption. Thompson said they will continue appealing those convictions.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 08, 2012

Gov. Quinn Keeps Public in Dark on Prison Conditions

Over the past several months, repeated attempts to visit the Vandalia and Vienna Correctional Centers in Illinois have been denied by the state. Illinois' prison system is in crisis. It was built to house 34,000 people, but it is now crowded with 48,000 inmates.

The overcrowded prison crisis has been brewing for a long time, invisible behind cement walls and wire fences. Gov. Pat Quinn seems determined to keep it from public view.

Chicago Public Radio has requested visits to the two minimum security facilities in Vandalia and Vienna to see what taxpayers are getting for the billion dollars they spend each year on prisons. Gov. Quinn said no.

When Jerome Suggs was sentenced for driving on a revoked license he was sent to Vienna, located near the southernmost point in Illinois, about 350 miles from Chicago. Suggs was assigned to live on the third floor of a building but there was absolutely no view.

"When I moved up there (in Building 19), there was boards up on the windows and I was just looking like, 'Wow! What is this?" Suggs said.

Suggs said there was not a single window letting in light and that he was put in a large room with several hundred other men. All of the men were crowded onto bunks with nothing to do. There are 600 inmates in the building and only seven showers and seven toilets, and the toilets often broke and overflowed, resulting in a strong sewage smell.

"The smell that came from the showers and it came into the living quarters and yeah, I used to go to sleep with my pillow over my face, the smell was horrible, man," Suggs said.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 06, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Denies Ryan’s Appeal

A federal appeals court in Chicago has denied an appeal filed by imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released a 16-page ruling on Monday denying the 78-year-old Republican's appeal.

A ruling in his favor could have led to Ryan's release from a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was widely seen as his last chance to get out of prison early.

Ryan is nearing the end of a 6 1/2-year sentence. He's due to be released in mid-2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court in April ordered the appeals court to revisit Ryan's arguments to overturn his conviction.

At an unrelated event Monday, Governor Pat Quinn said that the court has spoken and Ryan had his day in court. He says Ryan has to "do the time.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 06, 2012

NIU: Police Investigating Secret Fund

Northern Illinois University officials are investigating reports of an alleged secret bank account channeling thousands of dollars to several university workers.

NIU employees working at a campus physical plant allegedly sold scrap metal to a local company, which would write checks to an account known as the "coffee fund.'' University spokesman Paul Palian said the university's police department is looking into the matter:

"There is currently an investigation underway," Palian said. "It was launched Friday afternoon."

Electronic records show checks from the DeKalb Iron and Metal Company to the fund have totaled more than $13,000 dollars since 2005.

School officials say they have no record of such a fund.

A spokesperson for DeKalb Iron and Metal Company could not be reached.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2012

Ex-Chicago Alderman, Ex-County Official Charged

Former Cook County commissioner Joseph Moreno and former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano are being charged for taking bribes.

Prosecutors say Moreno took a $5,000 bribe to insure development of a waste transfer station in Cicero while he sat on the town's economic development panel. They say he also used his position as a Cook County commissioner to get kickbacks for pushing Stroger Hospital to buy bandages from a particular company.

Ambrosio Medrano worked for Commissioner Moreno. He's also charged, but he was also a Chicago alderman who pleaded guilty in 1996 in another bribery scheme. Medrano is being held in jail because prosecutors say he's a flight risk. Judge Young Kim will hear more on that at a hearing on Tuesday.

The charges were unsealed Thursday afternoon in Chicago federal court. Medrano and Moreno were among seven defendants charged in the case.

Download mp3 file

Page 66 of 120 pages ‹ First  < 64 65 66 67 68 >  Last ›