One vote was all that separated a convicted cop killer from freedom. The Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted 7-6 to deny parole for Ronnie Carrasquillo, who was convicted of killing Chicago police officer Terry Loftus in the 1970’s.
As WGN Investigates reported in 2020: A small group of Illinois inmates, including Carasquillo, are eligible to petition for release because they were convicted before Illinois abolished discretionary parole in 1978. In many cases it falls to the victims’ families and friends to testify at hearings year after year to keep their loved one’s killer locked-up. “The message is pretty clear: That it’s alright and eventually you will be free and we will still have a police officer whose life was taken,” Ellen Harrington, the cousin of murdered Chicago cop Terry Loftus, told WGN in 2020.
“It’s really like cruel and unusual punishment to the family,” said Kurt Kaner in 2020. His father was shot and killed at point blank range in 1970 as he sat in his squad car filling-out paperwork on a missing persons’ case. The younger Kaner, also a Chicago police officer, attended dozens of hearings over the years arguing that his father’s murderer should not be released from prison.
Prison reform experts argue the point of incarceration should be rehabilitation, not just punishment.
“If we never give people an opportunity to leave prison, we’re really not following through on that mission or principle,” said Jenny Vollen-Katz of the John Howard Association.