Gov. Pat Quinn has tapped the head of Cook County’s correctional system to take over the state's embattled Department of Corrections.
The appointment of Salvador “Tony” Godinez, 58, to lead the IDOC places a no-nonsense, nuts-and-bolts correctional employee in a post that caused Quinn his share of headaches in 2010.
Godinez has spent much of his adult life working in correctional systems. For the past 37 years, he has held posts not only as executive director of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department of Corrections, but also warden of Stateville Correctional Center, as well as chief of operations and chief of staff at IDOC. Previously, Godinez served as warden of Ely State Prison, a maximum-security facility in Ely, Nev., and as a corrections administrator in Michigan, Delaware, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.
Godinez’ appointment—which the Illinois Senate must approve—also frees the way for acting IDOC director Gladyse Taylor to return to her former job as assistant director. Taylor, who made $112,800 in the position according to the Associated Press, took over after former corrections chief Michael Randle resigned in September, following controversy over MGT Push, a secret early-release program he instated to cut costs. Named for “meritorious good time,” Randle’s program freed 1,700 prisoners early to reduce inmate population. But it also allowed some violent offenders to be released, with some of them committing new crimes. That made Randle a huge political liability for Quinn in a hotly contested election year.
Quinn praised Godinez in a written statement for devoting his career to public service, adding that “the people of Illinois will benefit from [his] wealth of knowledge and experience.” He also thanked Taylor for her eight-month fill-in stint as the acting head of IDOC: “I look forward to her continued work on behalf of the people of Illinois.”
Quinn also re-appointed Warren Ribley as director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Major General William Enyart as Illinois’ Adjutant General, directing the state’s Department of Military Affairs.