SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed the state’s prisons from accepting new inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, a group of civil rights organizations, including the ACLU of Illinois and Uptown People’s Law Center, signed an open letter to Pritzker stating no additional prisoners should be brought into Illinois’ overcrowded prisons due to the coronavirus. The letter also requested that, to protect prisoners from the virus, many people be released from prison, including those who were due to be paroled within 180 days, and anyone elderly, sick, or otherwise infirm.
“We commend Governor Pritzker for taking this powerful and necessary step that stops one path of transmission into the prisons. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen until after some people in prison were already infected with COVID-19. Now we need to stop it from spreading by getting as many people as possible out of prison, starting with those most at risk of death from the virus,” said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center, in a statement.
So far, Illinois prisons reportedly have a total of three confirmed COVID-19 cases among the populations at Stateville prison and North Lawndale Adult Transition Center, and one guard has been diagnosed from Sheridan prison.