The Illinois prisons chief who took the blame for a botched prisoner early release program under Gov. Pat Quinn is resigning as the Democratic governor seeks to stem the political damage from an election-year controversy, reports the Chicago Tribune. Michael Randle is leaving Sept. 17 to “pursue a new opportunity” out of state. Acting on Quinn’s general instructions to cut costs, Randle started a program last September that sped up the rate prisoners could earn good time credit. That lead to 1,745 inmates being let out an average of 36 days before the end of their sentence. Some convicts were released almost immediately, before corrections officials could assess their rehabilitation needs. And some of those released early went on to commit additional crimes.
A Quinn-appointed panel criticized as “ill-conceived” last month, finding that it traded protecting the public safety for $3.4 million in savings. The governor halted the program. He said he had been unaware of the program but maintained that he would not fire Randle, though he acknowledged he had considered it. Quinn said recently that he was standing by Randle. “Clearly, mistakes were made,” Quinn said Aug. 13. “I take accountability for the mistakes, the director who made the mistakes takes responsibility for them.”