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The Prisoner Review Board (PRB) in Illinois has come under scrutiny following the resignation of a member, LeAnn Miller, who signed off on the release of Crosetti Brand, a parolee with a lengthy criminal history who went on to kill an 11-year-old boy and injure his pregnant mother. Brand had been serving a 16-year sentence for home invasion and aggravated assault but was paroled early. The incident has raised concerns among Republican lawmakers about the politicization of the appointment process for PRB members, with accusations that Governor J.B. Pritzker has been careless in his selection of board members.

Following the tragic incident, there has been a push for accountability and reform within the PRB. Jayden Perkins, the victim of the attack, was described as a loving and talented student who brought light to his community. Brand, who had a history of domestic abuse and previous threats against the mother of the victim, had been paroled in 2023 but was brought back to prison for violating the conditions of his release. Despite this, a PRB hearing determined that he did not meet the standards for detainment, and Brand was released again in March.

The PRB was unaware of a protection order hearing that the victim, Laterria Smith, had requested in an attempt to protect herself from Brand. This lack of coordination and communication has raised further questions about the effectiveness and oversight of the review board. Republican lawmakers had previously raised concerns about the appointment process for PRB members, noting that appointments were being extended beyond the required period without Senate confirmation. This allowed certain members to remain on the board for longer periods without oversight.

One particular appointee, Max Cerda, drew criticism for his role on the board after being convicted of a double murder as a teenager. Cerda voted to release a convicted cop-killer during his time on the PRB, prompting Pritzker to withdraw the appointment due to lack of Senate support. The actions of PRB members, including the release of dangerous criminals, have raised serious concerns about the decision-making process within the board and the qualifications of its members.

In response to the public outcry, Governor Pritzker announced the resignation of PRB chair Donald Shelton and emphasized the need for additional safeguards and training to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. The incident involving Brand highlights the importance of thorough and careful consideration in parole decisions, especially when domestic violence is involved. Moving forward, there is a call for increased transparency and accountability within the PRB to ensure the safety of communities and victims of crime.

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