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Embattled Illinois prison chief resigns

Associated Press / September 3, 2010

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CHICAGO — The prison chief of Illinois, who became a political liability to Governor Pat Quinn during an election year because of a secret prisoner release program he oversaw, is stepping down, the governor said yesterday.

Corrections Director Michael Randle, 44, is resigning as of Sept. 17. He will return to Ohio, where he had been assistant director of the state prison system, to run a community correctional facility in Cleveland for a not-for-profit agency. He will take a huge pay cut.

A review last month of the early-release program found the corrections department did not consider possible dangers to the public when it tried to save money by releasing prisoners early, including some violent ones.

Quinn canceled MGT Push — named for the “meritorious good time’’ that was granted to prisoners — after the Associated Press revealed the program’s existence last fall. By then, some 1,700 inmates had been granted early release, including hundreds of prisoners with records of violence.

Quinn, a Democrat who is running for his first full term as governor, heaped most of the blame on Randle, and Randle said Quinn had ordered that violent offenders not be part of the program.

“I appreciate Director Randle’s dedicated service to the state of Illinois during these challenging times,’’ Quinn said in a statement. Randle was appointed corrections chief in May 2009.

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