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COVID-19 in Illinois Prisons

Updates from Uptown People's Law Center:

On April 2, 2020, in response to the swiftly spreading coronavirus epidemic in Illinois' prisons, a consortium of the area's leading civil rights attorneys and community advocates filed three cases seeking release of prisoners. All three cases demand the swift release of those prisoners most vulnerable to the epidemic before they fall victim to it. Read more here!


At UPLC, we are doing our best to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 developments at IDOC facilities around the state. If you are in contact with a friend, family member, or other loved one who is currently in IDOC custody and believe that your loved one would be comfortable with you sharing their information with us, please take a moment to fill out this survey.


Civil Rights Organizations Demand Early Release of Prisoners Due to Coronavirus 

On March 17th, civil rights groups signed an open letter to Governor Pritzker with demands related to prisoners in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois. The demands include early release of: prisoners due to be paroled within 120 days; those with viable clemency petitions; those who are pregnant, postpartum, or living with their infants; and those who have health conditions, including the elderly.

The full press release and letter to Governor Pritzker are available here!



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If you are a member of the press, please contact our Director of Communications, Megan Groves, at megan@uplcchicago.org.

The effort includes a proposed class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, naming Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Rob Jeffreys, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, as defendants.

The man was imprisoned at Stateville Correctional Center, where officials say there are now 12 men who are hospitalized, "including several requiring ventilators."

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A day after the state announced one Illinois prison inmate had died of COVID-19 and that more inmates and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, a legal services group is renewing its call for thousands of inmates to be released.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A day after the state announced one Illinois prison inmate had died of COVID-19 and that more inmates and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, a legal services group is renewing its call for thousands of inmates to be released.

A man incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill is among eight new deaths from the Coronavirus in Illinois, and 18 other inmates were taken to AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, officials said.

Officials knew two weeks ago just what kind of crisis loomed outside the front doors of the sprawling Cook County Jail.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois officials on Monday reported the death of a state prison inmate from COVID-19 and acknowledged the difficulty they face in stopping the spread of the virus in a crowded correctional system.

Health officials announced Monday the death of a Stateville Correctional Center inmate from COVID-19, the first confirmed death from the disease at an Illinois state prison.

We must act quickly. We urge officials to promptly release detainees who can be released safely.

COOK COUNTY, Il -- The number of detainees at Cook County Jail with COVID-19 has risen to 38, Sheriff Tom Dartsaid Friday in a news conference.

CHICAGO (CBS) — As has been discussed for weeks, hospitals are expected to reach or exceed capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. And as cases of COVID-19 spread through prisons, medical resources you or a loved one might need at your local hospitals will be up for grabs.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is slamming Illinois Gov. JB Prtizker’s decision to largely stop accepting new prisoners into the Illinois Department of Corrections, an attempt to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 behind bars. Instead of going into state prisons, those detainees will be held in jails under the supervision of county sheriffs.

Prisoners are “especially vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19,” Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker wrote in his executive order.

The Illinois Department of Corrections will refuse to take in new prisoners, with very limited exceptions, as the state seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. An executive order halting new prison admissions was issued Thursday by Gov. JB Pritzker as a total of 12 corrections staff and prisoners have tested positive for COVID19.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday issued an executive order halting new prisoners to the Illinois Department of Corrections amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Three prisoners and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Health experts say cases of the disease in correctional facilities are particularly alarming because it can spread quickly in the crowded and often unsanitary conditions.

NEW YORK -- The board overseeing New York City's jails urged officials to start releasing vulnerable populations and those being held on low-level offenses as the coronavirus outbreak hit the notorious Rikers Island complex and nearby jails - infecting at least 38 people.

CHICAGO (CBS) — As the Illinois stay-at-home order approaches the one-day mark, Gov. JB Pritzker called on volunteers to step up Sunday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Are Illinois prisons equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic? Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s answer to this question during his stop in Murphysboro on Wednesday hovered somewhere around maybe. The uncertainty he expressed brings into sharp relief the serious concerns around what would happen if any of the state’s already overcrowded penal institutions experience an outbreak.

Illinois prisons are a tinderbox for a potential coronavirus outbreak, but advocates and family of prisoners say the Department of Corrections isn’t providing the basic supplies to keep both staff and prisoners safe.

Illinois prisons are a tinderbox for a potential coronavirus outbreak, but advocates and family of prisoners say the Department of Corrections isn't providing the basic supplies to keep both staff and prisoners safe.

There have not yet been any cases of COVID-19 identified within the Cook County Jail, but the Sheriff’s Department says it’s taking additional steps to reduce the jail population in an effort to keep the deadly virus outside its walls as advocates have called for widespread release of detainees.

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has been telling the press that it is passing out hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and antibacterial soap to people incarcerated in its prisons as a preventative measure against the spread of coronavirus.

As alarm over the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, corrections and law enforcement officials are grappling with the daunting prospect of having to manage an outbreak inside the walls of Illinois’ jails and prisons.

“We now have no idea what’s going on inside.”

The conditions inside, which are inhumane, are now a threat to any American with a jail in their county — that’s everyone.

There are nearly 7,800 incarcerated people in state prisons age 50 or older. Advocates say many, if not most, of them could be safely released to the public.

  • Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation