Prisoner Review Board chair, member resign in wake of boy’s fatal stabbing by released inmate

Prisoner Review Board chair, member resign in wake of boy’s fatal stabbing by released inmate

By HANNAH MEISEL
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

The longtime chair and a relatively new member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board have resigned, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office announced Monday.

The governor’s office announced the pair’s resignations within hours of each other nearly two weeks after Crosetti Brand was released from Stateville Correctional Center. Brand is now charged with stabbing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and killing her 11-year-old son the day after his release.

Pritzker’s office said LeAnn Miller “conducted the recent Crosetti Brand hearing,” referring to a February hearing in front of the PRB in which the board voted to release Brand from custody after he’d allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend, Laterria Smith, in January.

Prior to the incident, Brand was on electronic monitoring after serving prison time for separate domestic violence charges, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was sent back to Stateville while the allegations were investigated.

But, according to the Sun-Times, in a hearing late last month, the PRB voted to release him because there wasn’t enough evidence to corroborate Smith’s allegations that Brand had contacted her. Such contact would mean Brand violated his parole, as prosecutors allege Smith had an active order of protection against him.

Brand was released on March 12, a few weeks after the PRB’s vote. The next morning, Brand forced his way into Smith’s apartment as she was leaving to drop her two sons off at school, according to reporting from the Chicago Tribune.

Prosecutors allege Brand stabbed 11-year-old Jayden Perkins to death as he was trying to defend his mother, who was also brutally stabbed. According to an obituary from Block Club Chicago, Perkins was an accomplished dancer who was on a full scholarship to a dance school in Chicago.

In a statement, Pritzker said that while the PRB “must be able to operate independently as they review enormously difficult cases,” he believed “LeAnn Miller has made the correct decision in stepping down from her role.” Pritzker said in his Monday morning statement. “It is clear that evidence in this case was not given the careful consideration that victims of domestic violence deserve and I am committed to ensuring additional safeguards and training are in place to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

The governor also wished Smith well in her recovery and said he mourned Perkins with his family.

Pritzker’s statement said he’d asked the PRB “to engage experts and advocates to design and implement expanded training” for board members charged with handling cases involving domestic violence.

The governor’s office said it also directed the PRB and Illinois Department of Corrections “to review the current rules and procedures” for receiving information related to cases involving domestic violence.

Miller was appointed to the Prisoner Review Board in September 2021 and her term wasn’t due to expire until January 2027. Her appointment came in the midst of increased scrutiny of Pritzker’s PRB appointees in 2021 and 2022. Republicans in the Illinois Senate, which votes to confirm the governor’s hundreds of appointments to state agencies, boards and commissions, took issue with Pritzker’s withdrawal of appointments before a key deadline, resetting the clock for the Senate to confirm.

The GOP members argued the PRB in particular was charged with making decisions too important for members to continue serving while unconfirmed. Republicans put a microscope to the members’ decisions, and the Pritzker administration ended up withdrawing names from appointment in the face of the pressure.

Read more: Appointments pulled for 2 members of Prisoner Review Board

While Miller wasn’t among the names the Republicans initially took issue with for serving too long while unconfirmed, the GOP’s scrutiny eventually included Miller for her role in releasing a prisoner who killed her two infant daughters in the 1980s. That decision involved a review of the inmate’s later diagnosis of postpartum psychosis, which has come to be far better understood in the three decades since.

Miller was confirmed to the board in March of last year on a 33-22 vote with a bipartisan mix of both support and opposition.

Late Monday afternoon, the governor’s office also announced the resignation of PRB chair Donald Shelton, who’d been on the board since 2012. In his statement about Shelton, Pritzker praised him for “providing a model of dedication to public service.”

“During his time with the Champaign Police Department and with the PRB he worked diligently to keep Illinoisans safe and uphold our justice system, and I thank him for his service,” the governor said.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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