Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich chose Macon County Sheriff Roger E. Walker Jr. to direct the state prison system. Walker, the first black man to be elected sheriff in Illinois, is the Democratic governor’s second nominee as corrections director. The Chicago Sun-Times notes that the first, Ernesto Velasco, stepped aside amid allegations of systematic beatings of prisoners at the Cook County Jail while he was administrator there.
Walker promised to improve a department that Blagojevich said is bloated with bureaucracy and doesn’t do enough to help rehabilitate criminals.
Walker, 54, is a 31-year sheriff’s department veteran. Hiss tenure as sheriff has not been without some discontent. Saying a tight budget left him no choice, Walker began serving just one hot meal a day in 2001. Jail inmates complained that he was starving them, but Walker said meals met nutritional guidelines.