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COVID-19 in Illinois Prisons

Updates from Uptown People's Law Center:

To donate to our work fighting the spread of coronavirus in Illinois' prisons, click here.


UPLC is tracking COVID-19 cases in IDOC. To see charts broken down by prison, click 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.


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!


On April 22, 2020, Chicago area civil rights groups came together to write a letter of support for the actions of Illinois Governor Pritzker. Read more here!


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.


In letters and interviews, men inside the facility describe conditions they say are continuing to drive infections at the Illinois prison hardest hit by coronavirus.

An amended lawsuit filed against Rob Jeffreys, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week claims that the state’s prison system has failed to protect medically vulnerable prisoners from COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Corrections and Gov. J.B. Pritzker aren’t doing enough to protect elderly and medically vulnerable inmates from COVID-19 inside state prison facilities, according to a lawsuit that claims inadequate testing and sanitation supplies have created conditions “where the virus can spread like wildfire.”

For weeks, two houses in Illinois’ Vienna Correctional Center ran on generator power and had intermittent failures. The outages made it harder to use the shared bathroom, one of the few places they could wash their hands.

COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on one of Chicago’s most vulnerable congregate populations: jail and prison detainees. At least 153 inmates and 147 staffers in Illinois state prisons are currently diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections

As efforts continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 at Cook County Jail by reducing the inmate population, Gov. J.B. Pritzker could help the effort with the stroke of a pen.

Today’s guest is Alan Mills, the Executive Director of the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago. Alan has been fighting for the rights of imprisoned people for decades and has played a key role in recent efforts to free prisoners who are locked in facilities where the coronavirus is spreading like wildfire. Alan, welcome to the show.

Preventing the spread of covid-19 is difficult everywhere. But prisons are among the hardest places to protect. Worldwide there are 11m behind bars, according to Penal Reform International, a pressure group. That is the highest figure ever.

An Illinois lawmaker and a county sheriff are raising fresh concerns about Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to release inmates as the spread of COVID-19 continues in the state’s prisons, including questions about transparency.

A federal judge Friday blocked a bid by state prisoners for an accelerated release or transfer amid the coronavirus, finding state officials’ current processes don’t violate their constitutional rights.

An Illinois federal judge on Friday refused to order the temporary release of nearly a third of the state’s prison population in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying the inmates aren’t entitled to such extraordinary relief “even in these extraordinary times.”

A federal judge on Friday denied a request for the state to immediately release potentially thousands of at-risk detainees from Illinois prisons, saying that while the coronavirus pandemic is clearly a serious threat there was “no convincing reason for a federal court to intrude here and now."

It took a prisoner’s death ‘just for them to pass out a single extra bar of soap,’ one incarcerated man said.

Pritzker's executive order gives the Illinois Department of Corrections permission to allow "medically vulnerable" inmates out of prison temporarily.

Pritzker's executive order gives the Illinois Department of Corrections permission to allow "medically vulnerable" inmates out of prison temporarily.

So far, three incarcerated men in Illinois — two who had been housed at Stateville prison in Crest Hill and a detainee at the Cook County Jail – have died from complications related to the coronavirus.

The night after the first man at Stateville Correctional Center died from COVID-19, a prisoner we’re referring to as “Harold,” said he was watching the nightly news in his cell. (WBEZ has agreed to not identify the prisoner by his real name.)

The night after the first man at Stateville Correctional Center died from COVID-19, a prisoner we’re referring to as “Harold,” said he was watching the nightly news in his cell. (WBEZ has agreed to not identify the prisoner by his real name.)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is deploying medics from the Illinois National Guard to the Illinois Department of Corrections facility, where advocates have declared a ‘disaster.’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s failure to release vulnerable prisoners from overcrowded facilities will cost unnecessary loss of life behind bars and in surrounding communities, say advocates and medical professionals.

A group of civil rights attorneys initiated a united legal challenge Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Corrections, demanding the immediate release of Illinois prisoners vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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.

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