The daughter of one of the five people murdered by Carl Reimann is pushing for reforms to the state’s Prisoner Review Board, and two state senators are looking into possible legislation on the matter.
Michelle Gardner-Morkert, daughter of David Gardner who was 35 when Reimann fatally shot him and four others at the Pine Village Steak House in Yorkville in 1972, has met with State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, and State Sen. Tom Rooney, R-Palatine, in an effort to get changes made to the board and to the parole system.
Reimann, now 77 years old and a former Sandwich resident, was paroled by the Prisoner Review Board in April over the objections of victims’ family members and Kendall County law enforcement. He was moved into two homes – first in La Grange and then in Calumet City – but his placement in both locations prompted strong objections from local residents and officials concerned about his proximity to local schools. Reimann was then moved back to Dixon Correctional Facility, where he was serving his original sentence, and will remain there until he can find a suitable place to live approved by the Department of Corrections.
Gardner-Morkert and other members of Gardner’s family have set up a Facebook group called “IL Prisoner Review Board Watchdog“ to keep victims’ families abreast of reforms and other news related to the parole board.
Holmes said that while she won’t be introducing any legislation before the beginning of the General Assembly’s next regular session in January, she has tasked her staff with researching the parole process and getting answers to other questions from the Prisoner Review Board and the Department of Corrections after speaking with Gardner-Morkert.
Holmes said she was concerned that Gardner-Morkert did not receive notification about Reimann being released on parole. Gardner-Morkert’s mother and David Gardner’s widow, Cheryl, had been receiving notification about Reimann but those notifications stopped when Cheryl died in 2015.
"I think my biggest concern on this was the notification piece, that I think anybody whose lives, especially if they are a direct family member, as Michelle is, should receive notification," Holmes said.
Holmes asked aloud why murder victims’ children over the age of 18 weren’t also notified of parole hearings once they became legal adults.
"That’s the piece that really scares me; the family has the right to know," she said. "Not to have it sprung on you, where you read it in the news."
Gardner-Morkert said she has concerns about members being appointed to the board that favor restorative justice, a type of criminal justice that focuses on rehabilitation and forgiveness from crime victims.
"I am pleased that Illinois senators from both sides of the aisle are willing to consider careful oversight to the IPRB confirmation process," Gardner-Morkert stated in an email. "Governor Rauner appointed members who demonstrate a clear bent toward restorative justice. I agree with restorative justice in its complex and full process, but appointing these members to carry out their work with a focus that is not currently part of the Illinois criminal justice system is like pounding squares into circular holes. Not only does it not work, but it ends up causing harm to both victims and offenders."
Gardner-Morkert cited the recent case of Angel Soto, a 90-year-old man who was convicted of murder in 1972 and released on parole in May.
"For example, one month after Carl Reimann was secretly placed in LaGrange and then in Calumet City, IPRB public minutes reveal that they released Angel Soto, a 90-year-old murderer who showed little remorse and no desire for parole," Gardner-Morkert wrote. "The victims’ families protested vehemently and IPRB members even stated that Soto would face significant hurdles to reintegrate into society, but they voted for parole to give him “hope” because he seemed disheartened. The voices of the victims were overshadowed by the desire to improve the offender’s mental health, which can be done through IDOC mental health services. That decision to parole Angel Soto is nothing close to restorative justice. In fact, it is a disservice to everyone involved."
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August 29, 2018 at 10:00AM