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July 13, 2024

Illinois Prisoner Review Board Member – Use of racial slur found in member records

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 20, 2017


The State of Illinois Prisoner Review Board (“PRB”) is a state agency whose members are appointed by the Governor of Illinois.

According to its website (here) the PRB is a quasi-judicial body and is tasked with making recommendations for parole and clemency to the Governor, among other things.

PRB Member John Clough against wall on right, in the middle of table. Photo courtesy of

Their website lists 4 areas they are tasked with:

  1. bi-partisan, independent review, adjudication, and enforcement of behavioral rules for offenders;
  2. parole consideration reviews and decisions for all adult offenders with “indeterminate” sentences;
  3. hearings and confidential reports and recommendations to the Governor regarding all requests for executive clemency;
  4. protection and consideration of the rights and concerns of victims when making decisions or recommendations regarding parole, executive clemency, conditions of release, or revocation of parole or release.

PRB is a 15-member board, with 1 vacancy and 14 current board members, with at least 7 of them appointed by Governor Rauner, with Senate approval. The most recent appointment was Mr. John Clough, in March of 2017 (read his bio). He resides in Coles County.

Each board member rakes in $85,886 per year, with the chairman getting $95,872. We also understand from several sources, that they are given a state vehicle to drive with regular, non-government license plates on them.

In our opinion, each board member should be free from bias – especially racial bias – because their bias could certainly influence any decision they make, and could detrimentally impact the State of Illinois should bias be proven. Racial intolerance has no place on this board (or anywhere else) and cannot be allowed.

The racial makeup of Illinois State Prison Population as of 2014 was 57.6% Black – 29.2% White – 12.7% Hispanic, Asian and American Indian make up the remainder (see report here).

In a routine public records request to Coles County, we received notes and certain discipline information on John Clough from his time as Deputy Sherriff in Coles County. What we found was shocking, and we had to read it several times to figure out exactly what we had ahold of.

Watch our short video explanation below and continue reading after that:


Use of the word “Nig***”

On May 19, 2015, John Clough (while still a Coles County Deputy) was reported to have been “saying the word “Ni****” to other deputies, not once, but twice.” Clough’s supervisor was directed to counsel him on his use of the word “Ni****” and place it in his personnel file. See a snippet of the comments (here) or the entire document (here).

Ask yourself if this is the type of person who should be getting paid $85k+ by the State of Illinois to make decisions, with a racial bias against a particular group of people making up nearly 60% of the prison population.

This is unacceptable under any circumstance and makes us wonder if there was ever any proper background research completed prior to his appointment by Governor Rauner. According to Coles County Sheriff Rankin, no one contacted his office for any type of vetting of Clough prior to the appointment to the PRB.

We call on the remaining PRB members to immediately demand John Clough resign from the board, and we call on Governor Rauner to immediately remove him from this Board.

We have previously written about his use of a state vehicle for electioneering purposes (here) and his filing of a false Statement of Economic Interest (here).

Governor Rauner’s office has not responded to requests for comments. has published an outstanding article on the Prisoner Review Board and John Clough (read it here).

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  • Robert O. Bogue
    Posted at 22:19h, 20 December Reply

    It’s hard to determine which is worse. An appointee with a track record of using the N word: the governor that appointed him; or those republicans in Coles County that would consider supporting such a candidate.
    Oh, ya, I didn’t mention Clough’s misuse of the state’s resources, which, casts a dark shadow upon those truly great state workers that are actually doing their job and following Illinois Law.

    Sadly, so very sadly, the unscrupulous John Clough has gained the favor and endorsement of Governor Rauner, whilst the governor himself refuses to do his job on behalf of all Illinois taxpayers by firing Clough. And just know; there are other special appointees……
    So, in calling Clough to resign, shouldn’t we also be calling for our Governor Rauner to step down based on his own failure, real failure, to demonstrate leadership and integrity here in Illinois?

    Governor if your reading this, start with Clough and follow with your personal gang of miss-fits such as Randy Blankenhorn, Beth McCluskey, Ken Martin, Barns, Prater and everyone else that helped cover up the FAA Airport funding fraud here in Edgar County and in other parts of the State…..both past and present. Just do you job for a change….drain the swamp……..

    • Homer
      Posted at 11:43h, 22 December Reply

      EDITED BY MODERATOR: “IF you want to accuse someone else of something, please use your real name when posting.”

      • jmkraft
        Posted at 11:44h, 22 December Reply

        If you can prove it we will write about it.

        • Homer
          Posted at 12:37h, 22 December Reply

          Very nice mr Kraft please ask many of his ex fellow co workers see what you find out there isn’t a paper trail so I can’t send it to you and my nick name is homer and that’s ok by me

          • jmkraft
            Posted at 12:40h, 22 December

            My only issue is that there is no way for anyone to argue a point if you don’t know who you are arguing with. We are simply making sure this webpage doesn’t become a topix.

  • Take Politics Out of Criminal Justice
    Posted at 00:18h, 21 December Reply

    I think the best avenue to affect change in the PRB is to ask for the qualifications for PRB members, if they exist. Secondly, demand the Gov., the Ethics Committee, and the PRB itself to review those qualifications – or establish qualifications – with input of an advisory board comprised of defense attorneys, prosecutors, correctional administrators and others. Change it from a salaried position to a compensated position for reimbursement of costs with limitations for each category. Also, and the biggest, take it away from the Governor – any governor – and get politics and political hacks out of it. Establish a PRB of the same make-up as described above. Just a thought.

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