We Join The Chorus Urging Governor Pritzker To Ease Housing Based Restrictions

A coalition of 50 local and national criminal justice reform organizations, led by the Chicago 400 Alliance, is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to ease conviction-based housing restrictions for the duration of the pandemic.

The move would allow people who have completed their sentences to finally leave prison.

“We’ve been working on this issue for years,” said alliance coordinator Laurie Jo Reynolds, “but now it’s a matter of life and death.”

Criminal justice reform organizations are calling on Gov. Pritzker to ease conviction-based housing restrictions so hundreds of people can finally be released.

She is hoping the governor will issue an executive order.

CLICK

THE PERCENTAGE OF BETRAYAL: Fewer Than 2%

Illinois has tested fewer than 2% of inmates for COVID-19.

Thousands have been quarantined across multiple facilities because of potential exposure and 11 have died, according to information released by the Illinois Department of Corrections.

This low level of testing has raised alarm among advocates and lawmakers.

They say it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to understand the true picture of the outbreak in Illinois prisons and respond to it appropriately. That includes taking steps to contain the outbreak and limit its spread into the communities where prisons are located, which are oftentimes rural and may have limited hospital capacity.

About 186 inmates and 160 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 according as of Friday, according to IDOC’s website. Of those individuals, the vast majority have recovered: 119 staff and 146 inmates.

CLICK

ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE MASKS A CHANCE

State Representative La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, will head to Statesville on Saturday, May 2, 2020, along with Twista and other stakeholders to advocate for staff support, delivery of crucial COVID-19 supplies, the speedy release of qualified COVID-19 high-risk inmates, and improved treatment of current inmates.

This is Rep. Ford’s statement:

“Governor Pritzker recently requires mask coverings in Illinois, especially in areas that make social distancing difficult. I want to make sure both employees and inmates are given masks and other supplies to protect them from COVID-19.

“Social distancing is impossible in prisons. We in Illinois are going to lead by example and provide these crucial supplies such as masks and clean water to employees and inmates at Statesville immediately. We need to make sure the living conditions are safe and healthy for inmates in the prison facility – this will also make it safe for Statesville employees.

“Since it was announced that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will evaluate those inmates at high risk to COVID-19, I will continue to advocate for inmates that are qualified for early release. I have received many letters and emails from constituents with loved ones in prison with non-violent crimes who are at high risk. If they qualify under the guidelines for early release, we need to have them released or else their stay could turn into a death sentence.

“If you have a loved one in this situation, please email me at repford@lashawnford.com.”

CLICK

Attorney-Client Calls Restored: Stateville & Hill

Illinois Department of Corrections officials say they have restored attorney-client phone calls at Stateville and Hill prisons, acknowledging that pandemic-related restrictions on inmate movement had forced officials to temporarily suspend the calls.

The calls, which require access to a part of the prison that has privacy and phone lines that are not monitored, had been put on hold due to COVID-19 precautions. Attorneys said they had been informed they might have to wait until the first week of May to speak to a client.

“Obviously these are extraordinary circumstances but people who are in custody still have a constitutional right to communicate,” said Sheila Bedi, a professor of law at Northwestern University and one of several Chicago attorneys who filed a lawsuit against IDOC over the COVID-related risks to thousands of inmates inside Illinois prisons.

Bedi said Monday that she was alerted that she would be able to speak to a client Wednesday.

CLICK