Illinois Public Media News
A panel of experts has told a state legislative committee that Illinois' prisons are bursting at the seams. They say immediate action is needed to reverse growing violence and worsening conditions for inmates and guards.
Legal experts and others who work with ex-inmates today urged support for an Illinois House bill that would revive a way to reduce prison populations through early release for good behavior. But a representative for Gov. Pat Quinn says he will not reverse his suspension of that measure without changes.
Quinn shut down the early release program in 2010 after The Associated Press reported that prison officials had implemented an unpublicized, accelerated version that was freeing criminals in as little as eight days.
A fraternity at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington has been suspended for three years after a student's death in March.
The Pantagraph in Bloomington reports (http://bit.ly/HtLpku ) that school president Richard Wilson announced the suspension in a statement Tuesday. Authorities in northern Illinois say 18-year-old Brandon Landau of New York was at a party in White Pines State Park and died after being found unresponsive with his lower body in a stream and his upper body on a log.
Sigma Pi can appeal the sanctions. It also can request reinstatement in 2015, but would face another four years of probation. Wilson says the university found the fraternity responsible for "serious violations.''
The university's Office of Judicial Affairs investigated the case and it had a hearing before the judicial committee.
Police in Decatur are searching for two suspects following the shooting deaths of a husband and wife Saturday night.
Authorities identified the victims as 34-year-old Freedom Cunningham and his 26-year-old wife, Central Cunningham.
Deputy Police Chief David Dickerson is calling on the public for help solving the crime.
The (Decatur) Herald-Review reports (http://bit.ly/HDivOk ) witnesses described the body of Freedom Cunningham collapsed on the porch of a Decatur home and Central Cunningham's body slumped in a van.
The newspaper reports that no arrests had been made by late Sunday. Police have executed several search warrants.
An Illinois House committee considering the expulsion of a Chicago lawmaker accused of bribery has postponed meeting due to the "possibility of further court action in the criminal proceeding,'' according to a recent letter by the group's leaders.
Members of an Illinois House panel investigation state Rep. Derrick Smith released a letter Saturday.
The committee had planned to meet in the coming days, but they say they'll postpone until later in the month. The letter says postponing allows more time to review and respond to any additional information.
Federal prosecutors claim Smith accepted a cash bribe from a campaign worker who was an undercover FBI informant. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has declined to comment.
Smith didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Fifty-two people have been granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn for crimes that date back decades.
Quinn announced Friday that he has expunged the records of these offenders. In most cases, he's also granting full pardons.
The Democratic governor also rejected 136 clemency requests.
Quinn is whittling away at a backlog of 2,500 requests that piled up under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Now in prison himself, Blagojevich rarely took any action on clemency.
Most of the people whose requests were granted Friday had committed relatively minor offenses.
Twenty-five involved theft. Sixteen involved drugs. Eight offenses included some kind of violence, such as misdemeanor battery.
The oldest incident took place in 1958, the most recent in 2005.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's effort to ban Illegal synthetic drugs has included collecting more than $50,000 in drugs on Tuesday from Champaign stores.
Madigan's office targeted Champaign and Bloomington-Normal as part of 'Operation Smoked Out.' Illinois is among the states that have banned the bath salts and synthetic marijuana. By far the largest amount - more than 1,800 packs, were seized from the Smoke Shack at 208 E. Green Street. The drugs have a street value of about $44,000. Meanwhile, more drugs valued at $13,000 were taken from Global Tobacco at 202 E. Green.
"With these businesses sitting in the heart of our campus community, keeping our teens and students safe is a priority for our department," said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. "The Champaign Police Department thanks the Attorney General's office and associated agencies for a proactive approach to removing synthetic drugs from our city streets."
The synthetic drugs are known to contain chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine.
In the Normal area, about $50,000 in synthetic drugs were surrendered by six tobacco and convenience stores.
"Bloomington, Normal, and Champaign have significant numbers of college students who have been enticed to purchase and use these illegal and dangerous products," said Attorney General Madigan. "Retailers in these college towns should be aware that law enforcement will soon be walking through their front door to ensure that these dangerous, illegal drugs are not for sale."
Madigan's office has proposed legislation to target the retail sale of synthetic drugs.
(Photo courtesy of the Illinois Attorney General's office)
Former Blagojevich Aide Given 2 Year Prison Sentence
A federal judge on Tuesday handed a two-year prison sentence to a close friend and aide of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Ex-Blagojevich Aide Gets Two Years in Prison
A judge has handed a two year sentence to a longtime friend of Rod Blagojevich who stood close to the former Illinois governor as his fortunes rose, but who turned against him after his 2008 arrest.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's administration is halting work on a juvenile detention center some lawmakers thought was illegal.
Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Kendall Marlowe said Thursday afternoon that the agency will halt remodeling the Illinois Youth Center at St. Charles "out of deference'' to lawmakers.
The legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability thought the $4 million project was accelerated to accommodate new detainees currently housed at the Joliet youth center. That would violate the closure law.
Quinn plans to close the Joliet center and other state-run facilities to save money. The legislative commission has an advisory say in the matter and suggested halting the work on St. Charles.
Marlowe says the justice agency maintains the work is not illegal but will not start it until plans are finalized.
Former Blagojevich Chief of Staff Gets 10 Days in Prison
A judge has sentenced Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff to 10 days in prison for helping his old boss attempt to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.
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