Parole Hearing Results 2019

Today I’m going to bury the lead.

Tom Henry’s parole hearing at Menard, where he is incarcerated, was on March 20. The day before, March 19, his two Chicago pro se attorneys, Susan Ritacca and Sara Garber, visited him to strategize the plans—half-way house, permanent residence, more details—before a hoped-for granting of parole.

In his letter telling me of it, Henry asked me not to publicize it here on my website or in fb this year. His reasoning was I’ve done so every time before and each year he’s been rejected. I acquiesced. That’s why you’re not reading about it until today and why I didn’t advise you ahead of yesterday’s April 25 PRB (Prisoner Review Board) hearing in Springfield, IL.

The vote last year, if you recall, was 6 to 5 in Henry’s favor, but since they count members not attending as no votes, he was denied parole. It seemed so wrong! Will this year be more of the same sad story?

I got a phone call at home last evening from Henry’s sister, Gloria. I haven’t talked to her for months. What she was calling about was to say—and here’s the lead I so blatantly buried: “Henry got parole! It was unanimous! Pass it on!”

He’s now 71 years old. Almost exactly half of those years have been spent behind bars! He was 22 when he committed murder. He escaped and survived 13 years as a fugitive. So, 22 + 13 = 35. He was recaptured and has spent that same number of years incarcerated. So, if he survives just a few months of freedom, his free days will begin to outnumber his caged nights.

Congratulations, Tom Henry! May your last decades be happy! You did wrong, you’ve paid the price, and I, along with many others, wish you the best.

If you haven’t read it, check out my book Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, still available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. In the book—and on the back cover—Tom Henry tells me, early in our acquaintance in prison, “Be careful what you wish for, Hendricks. When I was a child, I wanted bunk beds.” Well, my friend, enjoy your new wider, softer, single-mattress bed!

Parole Hearing Results

Tom Henry’s en banc hearing was held in Springfield, IL on June 28. I don’t know the results. If you do, please advise. A letter from Tom Henry arrived yesterday.

He writes the PRB (Prisoner Review Board) member who interviewed him at Menard started with a glowing report. “… excellent prison record … valued worker … low risk assessment … highly qualified …” Discussion ensued. One member said he’ll never vote for parole because the escape shows Henry didn’t take responsibility for his actions. A vote was taken. There are 15 PRB members. Two seats are currently vacant and two members are on vacation, so eleven were present. When 10 had voted, it was 5 to 5. When the eleventh member voted for Tom Henry, a wave of excitement shot through his supporters – sister and husband, son and girlfriend. He got the majority of votes! What just happened? He just made parole!

Not so fast. A member spoke up saying that any PRB members not in attendance are marked as “no” votes, so parole was denied.

There is a lawyer who does pro-bono work who is looking into it. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid they’re correct. The PRB website states: “Parole is granted upon receiving a vote of the majority of PRB Members assigned to the Board at the time.”

It’s crazy. Of the members in attendance, he got the majority. If the two on vacation would have split, he’d still have the majority. But he only got six of 13, the crazy way they figure it.

Another Parole Denial for Tom Henry

Thursday, April 27, 2017, was Henry’s en banc hearing. That’s where the parole board member who interviewed Henry at Menard CC gave her report to the full board. It occurred in Springfield and was again attended by Henry’s sister and, for the first time, his son, Thomas, who drove from southwestern Missouri. The board allowed only one family member to speak for up to 10 minutes. Thomas spoke.

Henry really thought he had a chance this year. The parole board member who interviewed him in March questioned him for hours, and he felt she understood him and was favorable toward him (which turned out to be true). Then after her visit, a risk assessment was administered, and then the original parole board member returned for a second visit, during which she told Henry he had done well on the risk assessment. What was against him was that two of last year’s four affirmative votes had retired from the board, and one member who was actively opposed to Henry, who was to retire last October, did not. As it turned out, Henry did pick up two votes, which replaced the two who had left, but even if those two had not left, he would have fallen one vote short. He needs seven.

After voting to deny Henry parole, the board voted on how long before he is reevaluated for parole. It appeared to the family members in attendance that he was going to get a three-year “set,” but in the end they voted to review his case again next year, which by now is only a bit more than ten months hence.

(I’m writing from memory of a phone call from Henry two nights ago. I didn’t take notes and can’t find any news report of Henry’s en banc hearing result.)

 

 

Henry Parole Story

From a post today on my authorhendricks fb account:
Tom Henry is now 69 years old. His current parole hearing took place on March 16, 2017.
A DHS social worker recently visited him to do a “risk assessment” interview.
The en banc hearing will be held in Springfield this Thursday, April 27.
In other news, Henry is a great grandpa. His (estranged) daughter’s daughter had a baby.

And a quick parole interview story:
Tom Henry has an enlarged pupil of the right eye. It always looks dilated. It’s from a retinal stroke he suffered many years ago. A few years ago a social worker interviewed him for parole. Some days later, a correctional officer showed up at his cell one evening, “The sergeant downstairs wants to see you. When Henry got there, the sergeant handed him a cup and told the officer to take Henry to the bathroom for a urine sample. He told Henry to put the sample in the cup, tighten the lid, rinse the container, and dry it with a paper towel. The sergeant shook the container, looked at the color strip, and told Henry, “You’re good.” On the way back to his cell, Henry asked the officer how many guys were they testing. “Just you,” the officer said.
So the parole interviewer must have noted his dilated pupil and recorded something like, “suspected drug use.” I’ll bet the results of that test never caught up with her comment. Its probably still in his file. That’s how things happen in prison.
Regards to all,
David

Tom Henry Denied Parole Again

My life is full and I have largely left this website and blog unattended. To blame is a new business called Blue Diamond Orthopedic that manufactures and sells spinal orthopedic braces, an ongoing investment interest (stock picking) and, last but by no means least, the birth of a now-7-month-old boy. I apologize for my long absence, but I make no promises that my next blog will arrive after a shorter interval.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board met on April 28 to once again consider Henry’s parole. In support was his sister and a high-school classmate of Henry’s, and opposing was a prosecutor. The board member who interviewed Henry in Menard made his presentation, which was surprisingly favorable to Henry, given his background as an Illinois prosecutor. He voted for Henry, as did two other members, but on May 12, 2016, Henry was once again denied parole. He was scheduled to be reviewed in a year, the shortest possible time interval between hearings.

Thank you all for your cares and prayers. They mean a lot to Henry.

Henry Denied Parole

Tom Henry: Confession of a KillerI was sad to read an email that came in last night from Andrea Ryken, one of the two fantastic student advocates who worked for Tom Henry’s release. To give you the story from her perspective, I’ll copy her words here:

“The en banc hearing did not go as well as we had hoped. Henry received the same two votes as last year, and he did at least receive a one-year set once again. However, the tone of the hearing was disappointing, to say the least. Eric Gregg, the Board member who had interviewed Henry in Menard, spoke about Henry with really positive language, and we were at first very optimistic. But then we were asked to leave so the Board could hear the protest letters from the victims’ families and, when we returned to the room, the tone had changed. It felt like all had gone cold.

“The Board allowed Rosie, Dick, and the two of us to say a few words. The Chairman was very short with us all, though, and Rosie in particular. We tried our best to clarify some points and emphasize that Henry has met every one of their supposed markers of an ideal parole candidate. And yet, some members could not get past the crime itself. One member described Henry as a Jekyll/Hyde character, and at this point Gregg seemed to back pedal and express worries about Henry that seemed at odds with how positively he described him from interview at first. Finally, Gregg recommended denying him parole, and he even hesitated about the set length, citing the difficulty it puts the victims’ families through with each attempt.

“We are sorry to report bad news. We stood with Rosie and Dick afterward, and some tears were definitely shed. It was a sad moment.

“We have both gained so much from this amazing experience. Our graduation is on May 16th, and we both agree this is one of the most important things we have had the privilege of doing in law school. It has been our absolute pleasure to get to know Henry, Rosie, Dick, and you through this process. We have memorialized the process in memos that we have passed on to our professor, and we have organized and re-named all of the electronic files for Henry’s petition in hopes that all future attempts are as smooth as possible. As our professor told us after the hearing when we called him, disappointed, it is absolutely worth it to keep trying because one never knows how the PRB will change with new members or how the situation will hit members differently, year to year.”

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.

Regards,

David Hendricks

www.authorhendricks.com

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Tom Henry’s Prison Parole Hearing

Tom Henry: Confession of a KillerI received a phone call from Henry Tuesday evening, during which he filled me in on his parole hearing Thursday of last week, March 20. First, a little background on the process.

To decide on parole for a prisoner, the IPRB (Illinois Prisoner Review Board) first sends a single member of the board (called a “Hearing Examiner”) to the prison. That parole board member interviews the prisoner and prepares a report and a recommendation for the full board, which meets later at their monthly meeting of the full Board in Springfield (that month’s en banc session).

The petitioner (inmate) is allowed to have a representative at the hearing, who may make a brief statement on the inmate’s behalf. There is also an opportunity for the inmate to tell his or her own story and to express personal thoughts on why they feel they should be paroled. The interview is recorded.

Henry told me that, in attendance, besides prison employees, were the Hearing Examiner, Henry’s sister, Rose, and her husband, Richard—who have become known to members of the Board by appearing at each of Henry’s hearings—and the two law students appointed by Alan Mills, Adjunct Professor at the Northwestern University School of Law.

Here’s what Henry told me: “Dave, it went better than any hearing I’ve ever had! The guy from the parole board was real friendly and me and him got to chatting before the others got there and we had a real good time, and the two gals from Mr. Mills were fantastic! They helped me to answer the questions and … one of them even put her hand on my leg and said, ‘Henry, you’ve gone beyond the question. Let’s come back to the point,’ one time.”

Henry talks fast and rambles when he talks. He is, in some ways, his own worst enemy at a formal hearing because of the jocularity of his demeanor and his no-telling-where-I’m-headed-next stream of consciousness method of communication. Back in January I told Ariel and Andrea that the best way they could help Henry at the hearing, in my opinion, was to tape duct tape across his mouth—and make sure to run it around the back of his head so it stays in place! Thankfully, they didn’t take me literally, but they, according to Henry, were fantastic advocates and excellent controllers as well. “They didn’t miss a single point we talked about beforehand,” he said.

The Springfield en banc meeting is scheduled for May 1, Henry informed me, “which will be one day before the anniversary of my arrest in the woods of McDonald County, when that FBI agent said to me, ‘It’s been a long time, Henry Hillenbrand’.”

Thank you for reading my blog.

Regards,

David Hendricks

www.authorhendricks.com

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2013 Parole Decision for Tom Henry

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

Last evening I got a text from Thomas Elliott, Henry’s oldest son, saying “Dad got two votes and a one year set. Dick and Rose are headed to see Dad now.”

“Well, that’s bad news but with good news mixed in,” I replied. “It’s always been a three-year set, except for last time, which was two years, so little by little …”

The rules are that the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB) can either approve or deny parole. If they deny, they also decide how long before the applicant can reappear. In prison slang, that time period is referred to as a “set.” Henry’s longest possible set is three years. In his many previous parole board appearances, they have always voted unanimously against parole and given him a three year set except for the last time when they also voted unanimously against but gave him a two-year set. This time, apparently, there were two votes in his favor and they gave him a one-year set.

I did a Google search seeking confirmation, but found none. I decided to wait until a newspaper published the decision to blog the information so I could be sure of my facts. This morning a new search revealed an article by Tom Collins of the Illinois Valley News Tribune, who wrote the following:

A double-murderer serving a life sentence was denied parole Thursday — but left his hearing with a couple of votes in support of release, a first for him.

Henry Hillenbrand, 65, is serving 240-year and 150-year sentences for a pair of 1970 murders in Streator. Hillenbrand has stood for numerous parole hearings but never got a single vote in favor of release — until now.

Thursday, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted 9-2 against release, marking the first time Hillenbrand gleaned any support for parole. He will be up for parole again in 2014.

I’m sure Tom Henry would want me to thank those of you who wrote him and who prayed for him regarding his parole hearing.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.

Regards,

David Hendricks

www.authorhendricks.com

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Where to Buy Tom Henry

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

For months we’ve been struggling to make my book as available as possible. As of yesterday another piece fell into place when Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer became available on Apple’s iTunes store. So now, when you click on the “Buy the Book” link anywhere on my website, www.authorhendricks.com, you’ll be presented with a menu of selections.

If you want to download the ebook, you can do so from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo. Whether you have a Kindle, Nook, Sony, or any other kind of electronic reader, there are choices available for you. No matter which you choose, the price will be $2.99.

If you’d rather hold a printed book in your hands, you can purchase the paperback from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and diesel eBook Store. The paperback price is $11.99, but it sells at prices ranging from $8.98 to $11.99. I don’t understand their pricing algorithms, but I’m pleased when vendors choose to discount my book.

If you’re one who likes to try before you buy, you can read part of the book for free on your computer or e-reader. From www.authorhendricks.com you can download the first 50+ pages in Kindle, Nook (ePub) or PDF formats. That free download begins with the Forward. Or, you can sample the book for free from Amazon. Just go to their page where Tom Henry is offered and click on “Send Sample now.” It’s been a while since I looked at it, but I believe their sample starts with Chapter One and extends farther into the book.

There is still no audio book of Tom Henry available, but the writing of this very blog was interrupted by a phone call from a professional book performer, who will send me follow-up information. So we’ll see what the future holds in that regard.

I’m still waiting on news of the results of Henry’s recent Parole Board hearing. I’ll let you know what I know when I know it.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.

Regards,

David Hendricks

www.authorhendricks.com

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Henry’s Parole Hearing from his Perspective

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

I found a letter from Tom Henry in our mailbox this weekend. Here’s what he wrote:

3-21-13

David,

This date is a memorable one. Where do I begin? Let’s start on March 20th. I had a visit from Rosie and Richard (his sister and her husband). Rosie said that neither of the law students have contacted her by phone or email. So she said we’re going to drive around tonight and see if we can locate them at a motel. Rosie had their names because I sent them to her. They didn’t find them anywhere.

Thursday morning. The parole hearing was scheduled for 9:00. I was taken to North 2 Cell House around 8:20. About 9:12 I was taken to an area with a desk and a woman named Ms. Donovan put down my file and said to the officer, “we’ll be needing four more chairs.”

She asked the officer to call out to the Electric Eye and have Hillenbrand’s visitors escorted in. He made the call and said a Richard and Rosemary Anderson are on the way in. She told him there should be four visitors, and she told him the names of the two law students. “I’m not going to proceed with this hearing without Hillenbrand’s counsel,” she said. She went to the wall phone and told someone on it to hold Hillenbrand’s visitors and to ask at the Electric Eye if the two law students were signed in. “No,” was the answer.

Around 9:40 she asked me if I know of any reason or have been notified that they wouldn’t be attending. “None whatsoever,” I said. I’m upset myself but doing my darndest not to show it. She says, “We’ll give them some more time and if they don’t show  I’ll continue this hearing to April’s docket.”

So she’s sitting there and I’m sitting there. I’m bored because I don’t have any activity I can do to pass the time. On the other hand, she has my jacket (thick folder with pockets) and opens it and commences reading papers and letters from the right side of it. That got my follicles to stand up under the skin on my bald spot, because the right side contains the petitions against me, letters from the state’s attorney, and letters of protest.

The only view I had was her facial expressions as she read one after another. She was very professional and didn’t comment about them. I’m thinking of all the negative things she’s reading, but I know when she reads the stuff on the left side it will change her thoughts somewhat about the inmate sitting across from her. She closes the folder and diverts her attention back to calling on the phone to inquire about the law students, if by chance they might have called.

She’s standing after getting off the phone talking to the security officer. All this time while I’m sitting there officers and counselors are going back and forth behind me. Some know her and are talking to her, but the distance is far enough I can’t make out that they’re saying.

She returns and sits down and says she’s been to Starved Rock, that she interviewed Chuck Weger at a parole hearing, and before she presented her case to the other members at the en banc hearing she drove to Starved Rock and, using the book, went into the lodge where he worked as a cook and then walked down the trail and went inside the cave where the three women were raped and killed.

She was a defense lawyer and doesn’t use a tape recorder. She takes notes using shorthand. She said she enjoyed doing a lot of her own investigative work. She wants to feel whatever decision she makes when she votes that it is the right one. “I have a responsibility and I take it seriously,” she said. Then she said she read the two C-number prisoners’ books. “I’m an avid reader,” she said. I said, “that way you get the whole picture of things. I seen you reading all those letters in the right side of the folder. I’m waiting for you to read the ones on the left.” She assured me she knows what’s in there and will be going over them.

So more time elapsed and she says, “there’s never been a time that any of Alan Mills’ students never showed up and didn’t even call, like today. I myself can’t contact them. It’s up to you to find out why. I’ll continue this to next month’s docket. It won’t be me, ‘cause I’m not scheduled to come to Menard in April.”

Then she said, “Henry, there’s been mention about a book that’s been written about you. I will be reading it.”

“Miss Donavan,” I said, “I don’t know what kind of grade these law students are getting this semester, but I’m giving them an “F”. They failed me by not calling me after our visit here, not contacting my sister or calling down here letting us know they’re not coming. You know when you’re in court if you feel like your lawyer’s not doing a good job you can just fire him? Is there some paper we can draw up here to make a record that I no longer want their assistance?

“It’s up to you alone to make that choice,” she said.

“Let’s start writing,” I said. (I figure if I get it postponed till next month there’ll be another parole board member here. Ms. Donavan has already read everything in my jacket. She’s been waiting all this time to do her job. Plus, I’m not letting someone who was a defense lawyer get away and possibly get an ex-state’s attorney.)

She instructed the officer to have my visitors escorted in. They came in and we had the hearing. At the conclusion she said to Rosie, “I want to get to the bottom of why those law students didn’t attend.” She gave Rosie her business card and said, “when you contact them and find out, let me know.” Then she closed the file and turned to me and said, “I’ll be reading Tom Henry soon.”

 

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.

Regards,

David Hendricks

www.authorhendricks.com

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