SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn should have fired state prison officials responsible for a secret early release program, House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday.
The program, uncovered last year by The Associated Press, resulted in the release of hundreds of potentially violent inmates and an embarrassing revelation by Quinn in the midst of an election that he wasn’t aware of the program.
“I’m rather surprised that there haven’t been some dismissals over at the Department of Corrections,” Madigan, D-Chicago, told reporters on the opening day of the spring legislative session. “That’s what I would recommend.”
In December, Quinn said Corrections officials made a “mistake” by moving forward with the program, but he did not fire anyone. He said his hand-picked prison chief, Michael Randle, exercised “bad judgment.”
Madigan didn’t single out Randle for firing.
“I don’t know who is responsible. I wasn’t around the situation,” he said.
However, Madigan added, “I would think in the ordinary course there would be some dismissals.”
The agency did recently hire an administrator to serve as a special counsel to Randle, who was among the first people hired by Quinn after he took over for the ousted Rod Blagojevich.
David Eldridge, formerly a top official at the Taxpayer’s Federation of Illinois, replaced Tim McLean as the department’s chief of intergovernmental relations in January.
Madigan said the early-release controversy resulted in making last week’s Democratic primary election between Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes closer than expected.
The dust-up “opened the door for Hynes, and he walked right in the door and took advantage of it.”
During the campaign, which ended with Quinn narrowly beating Hynes, the comptroller continually hammered on Quinn’s skills as an administrator, accused him of putting the public in danger by allowing the program to occur.
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