COVID19 UPDATE: NEWSOM COMMUTES SENTENCES

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday pardoned five people who had already served their time and commuted the sentences of 21 state prison inmates, including more than a dozen convicted of murder or related crimes.

The victims were children in two of the cases and a pregnant woman in a third. The clemency requests were being considered before the coronavirus crisis, “and, as resources permitted, the governor decided to move forward with them,” spokeswoman Vicky Waters said in an email.

Attorneys representing inmates asked federal judges this week to free thousands of inmates to help prisons better confront the pandemic, which has sickened one inmate and 12 employees.

Newsom said mass inmate releases would further burden strained community healthcare systems and homelessness programs. But he stopped transfers into the system for 30 days.

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ACT NOW, MR. PRESIDENT

OUR LEADERS HAVE THE POWER TO RELEASE PEOPLE IN PRISON. NOW THEY MUST USE IT.

State governors and the president have the authority to grant commutations and reprieves to people in prison across the country as COVID-19 spreads.

As our political leaders scramble to address one of the worst health crises the country has ever experienced, it is imperative that they prioritize the release of some of the country’s most vulnerable people from prisons, where containing the spread of COVID-19  is simply not feasible.

Many people in prison are over the age of 60 and have chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Coronavirus is more likely to be devastating, even deadly, for these people, but correctional facilities do not give them the option of avoiding close contact, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prescribed in order to contain the virus’s spread. Most U.S. detention facilities force people to bunk with one or two others, and some require them to sleep and eat in large communal areas. Social distancing in these environments is impossible. Even basic hygiene is a luxury: Many people in prison have no access to hand sanitizer and struggle to pay for soap.

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ALERT: STATEVILLE COVID-19 WILDFIRE

“I’m concerned because I know it can go through there like wildfire.”

We are getting reports of men at Stateville Correctional Center having symptoms of COVID-19.

In prison, there’s no such thing as Social Distancing.

COVID-19 ALERT: SOAP SHORTAGES

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.

While some advocates praised the department’s stated plan to protect prisons, they say that some individual facilities aren’t executing it.

The Illinois Department of Corrections promised last week that “hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and cleaning supplies are being made available to all staff and incarcerated individuals.”

But family members of people in prisons report the supplies aren’t actually being distributed at every facility.

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Mission Statement

Parole Illinois aims to raise awareness about mass incarceration and extreme-sentencing policies in our state, bring incarcerated voices into prison-policy discussions, and research and advocate for policies that give every incarcerated person in the state  a fair chance to return home and successfully reintegrate into their community.

Art by Joseph Dole, Parole Illinois Board Member

CUOMO SOUNDS DIRE WARNING

ALBANY — As new cases and deaths from COVID-19 increased, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday ordered non-essential construction projects to stop, and a state agency told parole officers that 1,100 parole violators who are being held in jails and prisons across New York will be released.

The parolees, who include 600 in New York City jails, will be returned to supervised release, according to people briefed about the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s order.

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PRISON ALERT: COVID-19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced this week that Illinois prisons would be closed to new inmates in response to growing concern about the COVID-19 pandemic spreading within Illinois’ correctional facilities.

As of Friday, at least five incarcerated men at Stateville Correctional Center have tested positive for the virus, along with multiple staff members at the prison.

A staff member at the Sheridan Correctional Center also tested positive for COVID-19, and so did multiple individuals housed at the North Lawndale Adult Transition Center in Chicago.

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Coronavirus Lockdown

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) — Two Illinois Department of Corrections facilities are locked down because inmates are sick.

The facilities are Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in East St. Louis and Robinson Correctional Center in Robinson, Ill., near the Indiana border, about 240 miles south of Chicago.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman told the I-Team about 60 inmates at Southwestern have flu-like symptoms.

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Raul Dorado: LWOP

I wake up each morning with the burden of having to serve another day of a life sentence in prison. This debt to society is not measured by years, but by breaths.

All life sentences in Illinois are without the possibility of parole (LWOP). So, my debt will be paid, in full, upon my last breath.

Just as fractions can be converted into decimals and decimals into fractions, there must be a mathematical formula to convert breaths into years and give me a sense of what percentage of my life is leveraged against me.

Perhaps I can get there by counting the number of breaths I take in a single day, multiply that number by 365 and divide the result by the life expectancy of an incarcerated Latino male. It’s important to adjust for life-diminishing factors, such as being male, a minority and incarcerated. It’s estimated that each year in prison diminishes a person’s life expectancy by two years.

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Raul Dorado is a Parole Illinois Board Member at Stateville Correctional Center who’s currently showing symptoms of COVID-19. Raul has an underlying heart condition, which makes us particularly concerned about him. 🙏❤️