Lippert v. Baldwin

In May 2013, Uptown People's Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections stating that more than 50,000 prisoners are experiencing needless pain and suffering due to inadequate medical and dental care. 

"Prisoners are provided care which is so inadequate that serious illnesses are left untreated, people are forced to live in pain for months with easily treatable conditions, and in some cases have suffered permanent damage, had legs amputated, and even died as a result.” - Alan Mills, UPLC Executive Director

In May 2017, a federal judge ruled that the long-standing problems with the medical and dental care provided in Illinois’ state prisons must be addressed systematically, rather than relying on individual challenges from prisoners. In June 2017, the expert (former IDOC medical Director, Ronald Shansky) filed a report documenting pervasive problems ranging from broken equipment and lack of basic sanitation and infection control, to gross medical errors coupled with failures in basic care and follow up. The report even criticized the Illinois Department of Corrections for not having qualified physicians.

In January 2019, we reached a settlement agreement with IDOC! The State of Illinois has agreed to a court-approved monitor who will oversee a complete overhaul of the system providing health care to over 40,000 prisoners. The agreement outlines a number of guidelines, including a staffing plan that addresses the quantity and quality of medical professionals, health care spaces, and medical equipment in each facility.

Attorneys: Alan Mills, Nicole Schult (Uptown People's Law Center), Ben Wolf, Camille Bennett, Lindsay Miller (ACLU of Illinois), Harold Hirshman (Dentons)

Date Filed: May 30, 2013

Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Judge: Judge Jorge Alonso

Status: Active

Case Number: 10 C 4603


It's easy to underestimate the brutality of boredom, but people in prison will tell you that keeping your mind occupied is essential to survival. Paulette Fiedler, a 69-year-old prisoner at Logan Correctional Center in Illinois, keeps her mind alive by reading — she plows through book after book.

Even after a major class action suit required Illinois to revamp its prison healthcare system, doctors whose alleged neglect resulted in major injury or death still remain on the prison system payroll.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker says his administration is committed to passing legislation that will promote transparency around prison deaths, even though the Illinois Department of Corrections under him opposed legislation in the spring that would have done just that. His office refuses to detail what concerns the administration had with that legislation or what fixes it would like to see included in any proposed bill, saying only that the office had “logistical concerns with the measure as written.”

Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would force prisons and jails in Illinois to provide information about how people in their custody die. The Illinois Department of Corrections often doesn’t provide basic information to families or the public and keeps shoddy and incomplete records, according to documents turned over to WBEZ by prison administrators.

The family of Chicago resident Charles Edward Jones who passed away in custody in 2015 is set to receive $1 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The funds are to be paid by the city’s taxpayers.

“We hope this is the beginning of the end of prisoners’ needless suffering and even death. It is a long road, and we are committed to ensuring the necessary changes are made,” declared Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center.

A federal court has ordered the State of Illinois to address its “failure to . . . meet the constitutional requirements with respect to the mental health needs of” its approximately 12,000 prisoners with mental illness. This case reached a settlement agreement in 2016, but the Illinois Department of Corrections failed to live up to the agreement, and constitutional violations continued.

Amid claims of preventable deaths and substandard medical care, state officials have agreed to a sweeping overhaul of the health care system at prisons across Illinois, according to a proposed federal consent decree filed in Chicago on Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has agreed to a plan that would allow a federal judge to oversee health care in the state’s prisons. The agreement comes eight years after a lawsuit was filed alleging the treatment in Illinois’ prisons is so poor that it violates the constitution.

When Sheila Fane got the call that her 26-year-old nephew, who she’d raised as a son, had died while incarcerated at an Illinois prison, she said, “You have to be f-ing kidding me.” It was the second time she’d gotten a call like this.

  • Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation