Illinois official resigns after public outcry over death of Jayden Perkins

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) announced Monday that a member of the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) has resigned from her post, following a public outcry in response to the death of 11-year-old Jayden Perkins.

Perkins was allegedly killed by a man with a history of domestic violence who was released on parole one day earlier.

LeAnn Miller, Pritzker said in his statement, had been closely involved in the decision to release the suspect charged in the case, Crosetti Brand. Pritzker said that made her decision to resign appropriate.

“The Prisoner Review Board must be able to operate independently as they review enormously difficult cases, but I believe LeAnn Miller has made the correct decision in stepping down from her role,” Pritzker said in his 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,” he added. “My thoughts are with Laterria Smith as she recovers and with the entire family of Jayden Perkins as we mourn this tragic loss — may his memory be a blessing.”

Miller conducted Brand’s parole hearing and prepared the draft order recommending he be released on parole.

Brand, 37, was arrested on charges related to stabbing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Laterria Smith, and killing her young son, Perkins.

Perkins’s death has provoked an outpouring of support for the family and raised questions about the parole system and steps victims of domestic violence can take to ensure the safety of their family.

Brand was first released from prison on parole last fall, and Smith was notified of his release, as she had been the victim of previous domestic violence cases against Brand, according to multiple local reports.

On Jan. 30, Brand sent her a text message, and two days later, Brand showed up at her apartment, prosecutors allege, according to local reports.

Prosecutors said Smith notified state parole officials that Brand had texted her and gone to her house, the Chicago Sun Times reported. Brand acknowledged going to the woman’s home when confronted by a commander from the Illinois Department of Corrections, but he claimed he was “looking for an apartment,” according to the Sun Times.

The PRB said it would consider the new allegations against Brand, and, as they were doing so, he was ordered to return to prison.

After Brand’s hearing, however, the Illinois PRB “determined the alleged violations did not meet the preponderance of evidence standard” that might have prevented his release, according to multiple local outlets. He was released on March 12.

In February, meanwhile, Smith had tried another method to protect herself and her family. She sought an emergency protection order, according to the Sun Times and CNN, but the judge decided against issuing one, arguing there was no apparent emergency because Brand was, at the time, incarcerated.

Pritzker, in his statement, said he directed the PRB and Illinois Department of Corrections to review the procedures in place to obtain information in domestic violence cases “to determine whether changes are necessary.” He also directed “experts and advocates” to help design expanded training for PRB members to better handle domestic violence cases.

“As the administration continues to review the facts in this case, it may pursue any broader statutory or policy changes needed to strengthen PRB’s review of similar cases moving forward,” Pritzker wrote.

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