Jason Van Dyke’s release from prison as secrecy isn’t given to most inmates – NBC10 Philadelphia
The release from prison of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald, has been shrouded in secrecy not granted to the vast majority of those in state or federal custody.
Van Dyke was released from Taylorville Correctional Center at 12:15 a.m. Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said Thursday afternoon, more than 13 hours after his release and after repeated requests for information during several days.
In the days leading up to Van Dyke’s release, the IDOC refused to release details of his status or whereabouts. On Tuesday, IDOC only confirmed that he was in state custody, adding in a statement, “For safety and security reasons, the Department cannot release any information regarding his current location or pending his release from custody of the IDOC”.
While Van Dyke’s release after serving more than three years of his 81-month sentence was in line with the day-for-day credit offered to most Illinois offenders, there was one way his case stood out: Despite remaining in IDOC custody, Van Dyke did not appear in the department’s online detainee locator, per state protocol in most cases.
Contrast that with others, like William Balfour, convicted of murdering singer Jennifer Hudson’s family in 2008. He appears in the inmate locator, as do other notorious killers in Illinois history.
Chester Weger, convicted of the infamous Starved Rock murders in 1960, was paroled in 2020 – but remains in the IDOC inmate locator.
So did Henry Brisbon, the I-57 killer, and Patricia Columbo, convicted of murdering her own parents and younger brother in 1976.
Van Dyke received a secret never before granted to federal prisoners as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the location of which is listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who appealed his death sentence for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, also appears on the BOP inmate search.
Even disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose sentence was commuted by then-President Donald Trump in 2020, is still in the federal database but listed as freed.
And in a case similar to Van Dyke’s, the state of Minnesota is publicly tracking the whereabouts of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Asked about the apparently preferential treatment accorded Van Dyke, an IDOC spokeswoman said late Thursday that her “time spent in custody and at liberty is in accordance with IDOC’s standard operating procedures.”
“The agency does not provide information on its website or otherwise about incarcerated individuals who do not reside at IDOC due to an interstate compact,” the statement said. “As with Van Dyke, it is normal for an individual who has been incarcerated in another state or detained in a federal facility to briefly return to an IDOC facility prior to release and information about their whereabouts or release will not be published. by the department.
The IDOC noted that there are 139 people not listed on the IDOC website because they are “subject to an interstate pact or for safety/security reasons.”
Whatever the reason for the state’s decision to hide Van Dyke’s location, it only adds to the outrage some were already expressing over his release.
“He can go home to his family and see his kids,” McDonald’s grandmother Tracie Hunter said at a press conference Wednesday. “I can’t do all this because my grandson is gone. He took him away from me.”