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Illinois corrections official defends handling of info to parole board

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(The Center Square) – The acting assistant director for the Illinois Department of Corrections is being pressed about a paroled inmate who faces new allegations of murdering a child and stabbing a pregnant woman that day after his release.

Alyssa Williams-Schafer was appointed to the job at IDOC late last month. Thursday, her appointment to the $170,000 a year position was in front of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, asked where the agency failed in reporting the whereabouts of Crosetti Brand, who last month was released and a day later allegedly killed an 11-year-old and stabbed a pregnant woman.

“According to CBS2, the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office notified the Department of Corrections that a judicial hearing was about to be held about an emergency protection order against an inmate, Crosetti Brand, who had been sent back to prison for violating the terms of his parole,” Plummer said. “DOC has admitted that the agency didn’t notify the Prisoner Review Board Brand was released and committed a murder among other things. What procedures does the department use to notify the Prisoner Review Board regarding information that might violate an offender’s parole.”

Williams-Schafer defended IDOC’s handling of the case.

“So currently, the Department of Corrections provides a violation report as well as a notification of charges to the parole board. So that violation report notification of charges is created by the agent, reviewed by the commander and then submitted,” she said. “So it has to be served within a certain period of time to the individual in custody. After it is served copies of those, particular reports are then submitted to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board as well as our automated management system, which is our Parole Communication and Command Center.”

Plummer pressed for more about what happened in this case.

“So, what happened was that our violation report as well as notification of charges was submitted timely to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board,” Williams-Schafer said.

Two members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board resigned from their positions last month after the stabbing death.

Meanwhile, Plummer said the Pritzker administration’s plan to close corrections facilities will hurt local economies.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the announcement last month that he aims to use capital funds to demolish and rebuild two facilities at Stateville and Logan at a projected taxpayer cost of up to $935 million. The governor’s office said the investments over three to five years will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs after years of neglect.

“If you’re an 18-year-old kid and you graduate high school … if you don’t join the military and if you’re not fortunate enough to go to college and you can’t get on at the prison you’re in a tough spot,” Plummer said.

Williams-Schafer said she understands the impact the closures will have.

“I understand the decimation, but we also have to understand that it is very, very difficult at this point in time to lure in even though those 18-year-olds, many say they want a Department of Corrections job, many of them don’t,” she said.

Plummer questioned why the shutdowns are being planned without any public hearings.