This is an update on the status of PRB appointments and a report on the en banc held on November 29, 2018. Special thanks to Joe Dusek who attended the en banc and took excellent notes.
Status of the PRB appointments:
Nothing new since the Governor announced the appointment of three members to the PRB. In making the appointments, he said his goal was to reduce the number of former prisoners who re-offend. So far only one of them, Lisa Daniels, seems to have followed the Governor’s goal. The other two, Joseph Ruggiero (former assistant State’s Attorney in DuPage County), and Patricia Wilson, a former DOC employee, have voted against parole in all cases and for multi-year sets in all cases.
The good news is that 5 positions expire in January, including those of Ruggiero and Wilson. The other 3 whose terms are up are Perkins, Norton and Diaz. They will have to be reappointed or replaced – and approved by the Senate. If you have any thoughts on replacements, please get in touch with me.
November 29 en banc
Fourteen PRB members were present; Mr. Diaz was absent.
Four candidates were up for parole this time, two of whom were granted parole. One of the 4 received 7 votes, and the remaining one received 6 votes. No multi-year sets.
The cases received the following votes:
Name votes Record of votes
Michael Parker 12-2 Against parole: Fisher, Wilson
Jerome Zamp 9-5 Against parole: Fisher, Norton, Ruggiero, Shelton, Tupy
Chester Weger 7-7 Against parole: Fisher, Johnson, Norton, Ruggiero, Shelton, Tupy, Wilson
William Howell 6-8 For parole: Crigler, Dunn, Harris, Ruggiero, Shelton, Findley
Michael Parker got 12 votes without having an attorney; his case was presented by Mr. Tupy who recommended parole. Michael is 68 years old. He was paroled in 1991 after a murder conviction. While on parole, he held up a shop, after which he turned himself in to police. He attends addiction therapy sessions. Had a stroke and needs a cane to walk. Most of his tickets are for refusing housing (with young gang bangers?). A friend has offered to let him move in. DOC will investigate the appropriateness of the host site.
Jerome Zamp was represented by attorneys from Winston & Strawn. His case was presented by Virginia Martinez who recommended parole. Jerome has been in prison for 40 years. Convicted under accomplice liability: he drove the getaway car in the killing of a very virtuous, accomplished doctor by persons who were hired by another doctor to prevent his whistle blowing. Jerome has very few tickets, has obtained many certificates. He is an artist and attends religious classes. Has been approved to live with his family in South Carolina. Strong opposition by family members of the victim in the past prevented Jerome’s parole, but this time Ms. Martinez was very effective in pointing out that the PRB had paroled people who had committed worse crimes against very decent victims. In addition, the attorneys from Winston & Strawn made the point that they would continue to work with Zamp once he was on parole.
Chester Weger was represented by Andy Hale and Celeste Stack. His case was presented by Ms. Harris who recommended granting parole. Chester is 80 years old. Having served 58 years, he is the longest serving inmate in IDOC. Six people were present in support of his parole, 4 of whom were family members. Members of the media were also present. Weger has claimed innocence since his original confession, which he claimed was coerced. Much of the time was taken up arguing innocence vs. guilt, though many claimed they were not there to retry the case. Ms. Harris had found some documents where someone else claimed guilt on their death bed. All were in agreement that Chester is physically in bad shape, too sick to be assigned a job or to harm anyone. He has a site at a Christian residence in Kansas, in the event the board prefers he be out of state. This is the second time Chester obtained 7 votes – one short of parole.
William Howell had no attorney. His case was presented by Mr. Norton, who, as usual, recommended denial of parole. William is 62 years old, has been incarcerated for 42 years. He and a co-defendant robbed an elderly neighbor to get money for alcohol. In the process, they beat and stabbed her several times and anally raped her. Howell claims to have no memory of the event because of the alcohol. He has an excellent institutional record: earned his GED and various vocational certificates. Works as a tailor. No tickets since 2000! He has no parole plan.
So far in 2018, 8 people have made parole: Jerome Zamp, Michael Parker, Robert Jones, Angel Soto, Reuben Taylor, Carl Reimann, Harrison Chancy, and Richard Baske. In 2017, 2 people made parole. As of January15 of this year, there were 166 C#s. Given their ages, more are dying than are getting parole, even if the PRB becomes more fair-minded.
The next en banc will be December 13. The following cases are scheduled to be heard: Larry Kurena, Michael Henderson (C10609) at Lawrence, George Peter, and Michael Henderson (C81919) at Dixon.
For the John Howard Association