Ethics Panel Targets Prison Whistleblowers

An Illinois government ethics panel on Friday released a report (PDF) calling for the firing of a Department of Corrections employee. He’s accused of giving information about a controversial program to the press.

More than two years ago, a series of stories reported that hundreds of state prisoners were quietly being released despite spending hardly any time behind bars. Some were violent offenders, and some went on to commit additional crimes.

The bad publicity that resulted from the secret early-release program nearly cost Gov. Pat Quinn the 2010 primary election.

Now state ethics investigators are accusing Daniel Reardon of leaking information about parolees to a reporter for the Associated Press. Reardon and anther parole agent, James Crane, are also accused of illegally accessing confidential information about parolees, lying to investigators, and engaging in conduct that “reflect[ed] unfavorably” on the Department of Corrections.

According to the report, both men denied the charges. And they both retired while the investigation was ongoing.

Back in 2010, the Quinn administration acknowledged the early-release program was “a mistake” that failed to protect the public’s safety.

The Department of Corrections declined to comment and Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said, “The independent [Office of the Executive Inspector General] report speaks for itself.”

— Brian Mackey

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