ST. LOUIS– The Illinois Prisoner Review Board granted parole today for Paula Sims.
Sims is serving life in prison for killing her two infant daughters in the 1980s. Now 62 years old, Sims has been serving more than 30 years in prison.
She’s now being considered for early release because of a new Illinois law that gives women a chance for a re-sentencing hearing if they suffered from a maternal mental illness.
In March 2021 she was granted clemency by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker making her eligible for parole.
Two psychologists told the review board earlier this year that Sims was suffering from a rare disorder called Postpartum Psychosis. Sims did not use Postpartum Psychosis as a defense at her 1990 trial.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine sent a letter to the board against Sims release.
At the hearing, there are seats divided into two sections, one on behalf of Sims release and one area for those protesting her release.
Alton, Illinois Police arrested her in 1989 for the murder of her six-week-old daughter Heather, who was found in a trash can. Sims later admitted killing another baby daughter, Loralie, three years earlier in 1986. She’d reportedly told police both times that someone had kidnapped her daughters.
Sims was convicted in 1990 of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole. Her legal team had unsuccessfully petitioned for similar relief from the Quinn and Rauner administrations.
The Senate Republican members of the Illinois Senate Executive Appointments Committee released the following statement.
“Yet again, the 14-member Prisoner Review Board, 10 of which are acting and serving unconfirmed, has voted to release another individual who has committed heinous, unspeakable crimes. It’s the gravity of these crimes and the heavy responsibility that these board members hold that make it vital and imperative that they go through the constitutionally-required vetting process and come before the Illinois Senate for confirmation.
“Governor Pritzker is circumventing that process to avoid transparency and legislative oversight over his hand-picked appointees, and his allies in the legislature are complicit in allowing him to do so. To make matters worse, the Pritzker-appointed Prisoner Review Board hasn’t posted their meeting minutes since March, breaking the statutory requirements set forth by the Open Meetings Act. Not only are 71 percent of the members of the Board being protected from Senate questioning, but their votes are also being hidden from the public.
“The people of Illinois deserve to know that due diligence is being performed on the individuals making parole decisions. Right now they have no reason to believe that is happening.”