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WATCHDOGS FOLLOW-UP: Lawmakers want former gang members banned from prison jobs

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Updated: February 12, 2014 6:10AM



Two Republican state lawmakers are drafting legislation to ban former gang members from working for the Illinois prison system and three other state agencies in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

Under the proposal by Reps. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, and John Anthony, R-Morris, a person who is “documented to have been a member of a criminal gang” would be prohibited from employment by the state Department of Corrections, State Police, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Family Services.

The legislation comes after the Sun-Times disclosed that Xadrian R. McCraven, a former gang member, was hired to a six-figure job within the state prison system last year despite being found unfit to work for IDOC in 2007 and 2011 because of problems identified in background checks.

McCraven had been working for DCFS until 2012 but was fired from the child-welfare system for allegedly sending lewd emails and falsifying a job application. He was transferred to a $111,432-a-year job as senior adviser to the IDOC chief of parole after settling a lawsuit and a union grievance he’d filed over his DCFS firing.

Federal court records show McCraven’s criminal history includes two dozen arrests that had been expunged and three misdemeanor convictions. He admitted being a gang member for two years in the late 1980s in a corrections job application he filled out in 2011.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration fired McCraven Monday, citing “inconsistencies in employment applications.”

Reboletti, a former DuPage County prosecutor; Anthony, a former downstate police officer; and Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, called on House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, to let them convene legislative committee hearings next week to determine, among other things, if political contributions that McCraven had made to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other Democrats had influenced decisions to hire him.

“There are many unanswered questions as to the culture of political hiring in Illinois,” said Ives, noting key issues in McCraven’s case include “the movement of individuals fired from one job to another state job with a larger salary” and “the grievance process embedded in public-sector union contracts that intimidate managers from pursuing a firing when faced with a lawsuit.”

Reboletti is a supporter of state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, a candidate for governor who is calling for the ouster of state prisons chief Salvador Godinez over McCraven’s hiring.

Reboletti said the bill that he and Anthony are drafting has nothing to do with helping Dillard. “If I supported Bruce Rauner, I would be telling you the exact same thing,” he said.

Anthony said he has yet to support any GOP gubernatorial hopeful.

McCraven sought a job with corrections in 2007 but was rejected that March because of an undisclosed problem identified in a background check. He was hired by DCFS in November 2007.

In 2011, Godinez’s office signed off on McCraven being detailed from his job as a DCFS shelter-care coordinator to an investigator’s post in the prison system’s intelligence unit. Two months later, he was sent back to DCFS because of “suitability issues” found in another background check.

Godinez was informed of the move in an Oct. 14, 2011, email. But a spokesman for IDOC says Godinez doesn’t recall McCraven being detailed to the agency in 2011 or being removed from the detail, given the more than 10,000 employees he oversees.

McCraven has declined to comment. A Quinn spokeswoman has said the governor stands by Godinez and that McCraven “was hired under Rod Blagojevich and inherited by the Quinn administration.”

On Friday, the spokeswoman said: “We look forward to seeing the legislation and reviewing it carefully.”



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