Rauner creates prison commission, says Godinez in line to regain IDOC director spot

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner has created a new commission tasked with finding ways to reform Illinois’ criminal justice system and sentencing laws.

The Winnetka Republican issued an executive order Wednesday creating the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

IDOC Director S.A. "Tony" Godinez
Salvador S.A. “Tony” Godinez

Rauner says the group will study all aspects of Illinois’ system, from a person’s arrest to their re-entry to the community after being released from prison.

Rauner says “Illinois is in desperate need of criminal justice reform.”

The governor says Illinois’ prisons are overcrowded and too many offenders are being sent back to prison after their release.

It’s an area where Rauner and Democrats could find common ground.

Senate President John Cullerton has said he wants to reform Illinois’ system, and House lawmakers are meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue.

However, after Rauner announced the formation of the commission Wednesday, he noted that controversial Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez is under consideration for the agency’s top post.

The governor stopped short of giving the holdover from former Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration his full support.

Godinez is among just two agency chiefs from the Quinn era who remain on the job under Rauner, a Republican. The other is Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Rocco Claps.

In December, the Department of Corrections issued a press release announcing Godinez’s plan to retire at the end of the year. But, records show the 62-year-old is still on the state payroll earning $150,228 annually.

Godinez was brought on board by Quinn in May 2011. His tenure has been marked by controversy, including hiring a former gang member to a $111,000-per-year job as an investigator and for hiring former U.S. Rep. Phil Hare’s son as an assistant warden at East Moline Correctional Center.

During his Senate confirmation in March, Godinez drew support only from Democratic lawmakers. Two downstate Democrats, state Sens. Gary Forby of Benton and Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, also voted against his nomination.