News reports in Illinois indicate that a number of county sheriffs have begun the process of transferring prisoners held in county jails to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). These transfers had been blocked by an order from Governor Pritzker as part of the State’s strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 in state correctional facilities. After a group of county sheriffs challenged the order, a Logan County Judge ruled against the Governor’s order, and sheriffs quickly began the transfer process before the ruling could be appealed.
The following statement can be attributed to Camille Bennett, Director of the Corrections Reform Project, ACLU of Illinois:
“It is regrettable that some sheriffs appear anxious to resume transfers to IDOC even before the legal process has played out. Elected officials should be mindful of health risks to those being transferred as well as those inside IDOC facilities, including staff and their families.
We know that prisons and jails have been vectors for spread of the coronavirus and moving people in and out – including sheriffs’ personnel managing the transfers – only increases spread of the virus.
The State deserves an opportunity to appeal this ruling before the risk of spread is magnified. Unnecessarily subjecting detainees, staff, and communities to a potentially lethal virus without appropriate public health precautions is needlessly cruel.”