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State Representative takes issue with the Governor prison releases

One State Representative believes the Governor’s pattern of decisions surrounding the state’s prison system is a threat to public safety in Illinois. State Representative Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), who has recently made headlines by way of two lawsuits in Clay County aimed at the state's top leader, isn't happy with a couple of decision made Governor JB Pritzker about the state's prison population.

"The latest decision by the Governor to release one of the inmates involved in the murder of Illinois State Trooper Layton Davis is appalling," said Bailey (R-Xenia) in a statement delivered to the media. "I was with the Davis family on August 10 when they publicly pleaded with Gov. Pritzker not to release convicted killers James E. Taylor and Aaron Hyche.

Taylor and Hyche were in a vehicle when Davis, who was with Illinois State police for 19 years and assigned to District 12, performed a routine traffic stop for speeding on Interstate-57 near Effingham. An arrest warrant for Taylor had been issued in Cook County after he failed to appear for sentencing on convictions for attempt murder and attempt armed robbery.

Upon learning of the outstanding warrant, Davis attempted to take both men into custody. During his pat-down with the two passengers, the WWII veteran discovered at firearm tucked into Hyche's waistband. A struggle ensued resulting in Davis' death after he was wounded three times.

The pair were later captured, tried and sentenced to life.

Earlier this month, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board paroled Taylor with eight members in favor and five against. Eight is the minimum number of votes needed for parole. Due to firing the fatal shots, the board rejected Hyche's request with 11 members voting against him and two in favor.

"While only Taylor has been released at this time, I wonder how long before Hyche will be set free?" Bailey said. He added: "Davis lost his life that day protecting the people of Illinois, and his wife and three children were left without a husband and father. Taylor and Hyche were given sentences commensurate with their heinous act. They should complete those sentences in full. The Davis family isn’t getting a reprieve from their life-long pain and loss."

Bailey, who has sued Pritzker and his administration in his home district over the Governor's use of Executive Orders during the pandemic the five months, also takes issue with the Governor for other decisions involving prison inmates.

Bailey stated in his release that "Pritzker has okayed the release of more than 4,000 inmates since March 1", citing a report from WAND-TV as well as the Alton Telegraph.

However, according to Restore Justice, only 1,222 prisoners were released due concerns over the rising level of COVID-19 infections in the Illinois prisons. As of June 1, IDOC has released 5,637 individuals with majority of them serving the entire sentence.

While an Appellate Court recently ruling that Pritzker indeed has the ultimate power to set policy regarding inmate transfers, another point of contention from Bailey is the lack of cooperation and consideration for the safety of local communities. He said level has been "unacceptable".

He also takes to task a Pritzker directive ordering sheriffs not to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when illegal immigrants completed their felony prison sentences and were being released. Criticized by the Illinois Sheriffs Association, the organization made it clear the Governor's policies are making their communities less safe.

"Sadly, the Illinois Sheriffs Association has had their hands full, not just trying to protect the people whose safety is their primary responsibility, but also because they’ve had to battle the Governor on policies that harm public safety," said Bailey. "Pritzker is also being sued by the Sheriffs Association because of the state’s failure to take custody of inmates, currently in local jails, but who received state prison sentences."

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