The former Illinois prison director has worked just one day in the 17 months since he was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to a state board that decides if inmates should be paroled, reports the Chicago Tribune. Roger Walker Jr. attended a half-day orientation but has been absent from every meeting of the full Illinois Prisoner Review Board except for one session about three weeks after his appointment in June 2009. “I’m on sick leave,” said Walker, who indicated he has heart, lung, and stomach problems and needs the job for the health insurance. “So what’s the deal?  these bills and stuff are just astronomical.”
The governor’s office said it was aware Walker had medical issues when he was appointed to the $85,886-a-year position, but officials did not believe his health would keep him from performing the work. Walker said he spent several months last year at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and “almost died a few times.” The 15 members who make up the Prisoner Review Board meet about once a month, sometimes twice, in either Chicago or Springfield to consider whether to release prisoners who received indeterminate sentences for violent crimes in the 1970s and earlier. The board also meets to consider cases of people seeking clemency from the governor. Members travel to prisons across the state to hear parole violation cases as well as to set conditions of parole for the more than 25,000 inmates released each year. Those panels also hear disciplinary cases against inmates and decide whether to take away credits for good conduct. The state considers it a full-time job, but some weeks involve only three or four days of work – including travel time to prisons – depending on the caseload.