Law Enforcement Coalition
asks governor why murderers
and other violent criminals are being released

April 21. 2020

A statewide Illinois Coalition For Public Safety (COPS), representing nearly every law enforcement officer in Illinois, has expressed great concerns about the early release of murderers and other violent criminals in the past month.

They sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker on Friday, April 17, 2020, a day after the Illinois State Senate Republicans questioned why the governor has recently reduced the sentences of several violent criminals, including seven or more convicted murderers.

The “COPS” coalition said they share the concerns of the Senate Republicans and support their inquiry into what is going on.

The six COPS signatories also asked for more information in their April 17 letter. They wrote: “Our organizations recently formed a non-partisan coalition of law enforcement associations. We are writing on behalf of our membership - which includes virtually every state and local law enforcement officer in Illinois. Police officers are on the front lines every day. As you have previously acknowledged, our job is very difficult and dangerous under “normal” circumstances. The level of risk has been increased exponentially as a result of the current pandemic. Unfortunately, officers now also fear that violent convicted felons are being released back into the communities we have sworn to serve and protect.”

The ILACP Board of Officers, led by President Steven Stelter, chief of police in Indian Head Park, believes the public needs to know about the unexplained early releases.

The Senate Republicans wrote in their letter of April 16: “According to the Chicago Tribune, Alma Durr is one of the murderers whose sentence you decided to commute. Is this true? Ms. Durr took a revolver, held it to her 21-month-old son Darryl’s head, and pulled the trigger. A news story from the trial indicated that Darryl moaned and suffered but did not die for another two hours. Despite DCFS’s best efforts to protect Darryl, he will never get to see his 50th birthday. His murderer, at 50 years-old, will be leaving a prison that currently has no inmates infected with COVID-19 (according to IDOC’s website). She had been sentenced to life.

“Yesterday, the Fraternal Order of Police (Chicago Lodge #7) announced that they had additional concerns about the release of violent felons, including an inmate who was incarcerated for Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault with a Weapon and released after only 60 days. While many of our state’s businesses have had to keep their doors closed, why are you allowing the doors of our prisons to be opened for murderers and violent criminals?”

Wojcicki added that he is grateful that the Illinois House Republicans also wrote a letter last week on the same topic to request more information, and several Republican state representatives brought additional attention to this, including Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, an ILACP Public Official of the Year. The reps asked for additional information about inmates being furloughed from the Department of Corrections.

Wojcicki said he has heard from other law enforcement associations around the country about a national and state-by-state movement to get many violent criminals released from state prisons, and there is growing concern about this among law enforcement officers throughout the country. Wojcicki also has heard from an ILACP member about convicted murderers in Rockford and Elgin being released early, and the association is trying to get an explanation for these early releases as well.

Signing the letter for the COPS coalition were:

Jim Kaitschuk, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association
Sean Smoot, Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois & PBLC
Kevin Graham, FOP, Chicago Lodge #7
Chris Southwood, Fraternal Order of Police
Shawn Roselieb, Illinois FOP Labor Council
Ed Wojcicki, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police