As distribution of the vaccine for the coronavirus moves into the next phase, the Pritzker Administration is planning to prioritize prisoners in Illinois Department of Corrections’ facilities for vaccination. The decision recognizes the heightened risk faced by those who are incarcerated in places where they cannot ensure social-distancing or consistent use of personal protective equipment, as well as the associated risk to local public health resources.  

In response to this decision, Camille Bennett, Director of the Corrections Reform Project at the ACLU of Illinois, issued the following statement: 

“COVID-19 has ruthlessly demonstrated that all of us can be infected, especially those without the ability to engage in routine practices like social distancing and regular hygiene. Prisons and detention centers have been vectors and accelerants of spread. Nearly 10,000 Illinois prisoners have contracted the virus. More than 70 have died. 

For this reason, it makes sense for Illinois to prioritize the people detained in these facilities for vaccination as a small part of the next phase of vaccine rollout. This will promote the safety of staff and residents of these facilities and surrounding communities who rely on the same public health resources. 

We urge everyone to ignore the temptation of political attacks on this decision. The suggestion that someone should die from COVID complications simply because they are incarcerated fails to recognize the value of human life. Vaccinating prisoners will save lives in the facilities and in the communities surrounding them. This is good policy.”