Pritzker should reform Dept. of Corrections

Agency’s culture must be transformed from punitiveness to rehabilitation.

SHARE Pritzker should reform Dept. of Corrections

Seth Perlman/AP

I give Gov. J.B. Pritzker high marks for leadership, especially in fighting COVID-19. He should pay that same attention to the crisis in the Illinois Department of Corrections. To be effective and meet constitutional standards, DOC’s culture must be transformed from punitiveness to rehabilitation, even though there will be opposition from many sides. 

Over 28 years, I have visited most prisons in Illinois and have interacted with hundreds if not thousands of imprisoned and formerly imprisoned citizens. Regardless of who is in charge, little changes. Thanks to the heroic efforts of a handful of attorneys, legislators, journalists, dedicated volunteers and correctional staff, minor improvements are made. Sometimes these changes last, many times not. But nothing changes the system. 

SEND LETTERS TO: Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be 350 words or less.

In the case of violent crimes, victims and victims’ families suffer horrible pain. Years ago, I believed our system generally got things right, but no longer. Most victims of crime do not even seek relief from the justice system because they know it will not provide what they need. 

According to the Illinois Constitution, the purpose of sentencing is to return people to “useful citizenship.” The DOC is an abysmal failure, wasting $3 billion annually. Over one half of released people return to prison.

DOC functions as a killing field. COVID-19 makes this even clearer. Pritzker should support legislative efforts to reinstate parole, to give elderly people in prison opportunities for immediate sentencing review and to end money bail. He also should use his power to leave a legacy of decarceration.

Bill Ryan, Westchester

Shredding the evidence

I would bet good money that the White House paper shredders will be running 24/7 from now until noon on the 20th.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

Spineless sycophants

When historians write, in the not-too-distant future, of the travesty that the Trump administration was to American democracy, the harshest condemnation will not be of Donald Trump himself. It will be of the spineless sycophants, stooges, toadies and political lapdogs who enabled him and encouraged him with their deafening silence. 

Walter R. Kowalczyk, Jefferson Park

The Latest
Lyric Jackson was brought to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park with bruises on her face about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Chicago police said. She later died. An autopsy showed she died as a result of abuse.
Evidence shows Robinson, who was exonerated and finally released April 8, could not have committed the murder. On many level, the justice system failed.
Suzuki was off to an impressive offensive start to the seaosn.
Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and others showed off their style at the 2024 WNBA Draft in Brooklyn.
The appointment of James Montgomery, a former mayor and public administrator, comes three weeks after chair Don Shelton and board member LeAnn Miller resigned. Miller oversaw the decision to release Crosetti Brand, who then allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend and killed her 11-year-old son Jayden Perkins.