Mayor Richard Daley isn't the only Illinois official who recently announced his resignation. Last Thursday, Illinois Department of Corrections director Michael Randle said he will step down from his post at the end of the month to pursue a new opportunity in Ohio. While the news was buried before Labor Day and overshadowed this week by the Daley bombshell, it will still have some significance politically this fall. Randle carried the blame for the MGT Push early release controversy, a program for which Gov. Pat Quinn is still receiving heavy criticism.
On the policy side, criminal justice reformers in and out of government are apoplectic over the departure of Randle, who made a big splash early in his tenure by outlining a well-regarded 10-point reform plan for the infamous Tamms Correctional Center. Like the Sun-Times editorial board, they were giddy over the direction in which he was taking the department, calling him in an open letter to Gov. Quinn "the first true reformer the IDOC has had in a generation." "My sources inside DOC say Randle ran the agency in a professional, critical, and progressive way," added Northwestern University professor Stephen F. Eisenman. Eisenman and his colleagues are hopeful that Gladyse Taylor, who is taking over for Randle, will not abandon his Tamms' efforts or challenge a meaningful court ruling about the due process rights of Tamms' prisoners that was handed down in July. If she doesn't uphold Randle's commitments, you can bet those advocates will make their concerns known.