New Surge Of COVID Is Spreading “Like Wildfire” In Illinois Prisons

With COVID-19 raging throughout the United States, there is a growing sense of desperation among people in prison. Pablo Mendoza, who recently got out of prison, said that those inside “are tired of the lockdown.”

They spend 23.5 hours a day in their cells. They have not had visits from their loved ones for almost a year.

Those who have caught COVID and are believed to be immune get out for yard time. Others are “weighing options,” according to Mendoza: “Stay safe, or get the virus so they can get some open air. They are willing to risk it; this is the mood right now.”


They Are Burying Us Alive In Prison By Raul Dorado

There are many ways to come to prison.

You could have been raised in a segregated high-rise ghetto, removed from mainstream society and cut off from participation in the legal economy. Or you could just have been born black.

If you inhabit a black body, you’re nearly six times more likely than whites to be imprisoned, and if you reside in a brown body, you’re three times more likely to be imprisoned.

Covid-19 came to Stateville, undetected, in the bodies of the prison guards who have direct custody of us.

Prisons are long-term care facilities, but without the actual care. Just over four decades ago, Illinois fell in line behind a national trend to abandon the goal of rehabilitation in favor of punitive sentencing practices.

These practices lay the foundation of today’s overcrowded prisons that have not spared the elderly prisoner population bearing the brunt of Covid-19.

Our group is supporting a bill in the Illinois legislature, SB3233: Earned Discretionary Release.


Raul Dorado Is An Incarcerated Writer & Co-Founder Of Parole Illinois

YOU’RE INVITED & NEEDED: Hope To See You There

Join us for a public hearing on the current conditions that incarcerated people are facing under the COVID-19 pandemic and how communities inside and out are building up the practices and institutions that support healthy and self-determined communities during COVID-19.

And beyond.



The COVID-19 crisis in U.S. prisons has shone a light on the horrific conditions and overcrowding that have turned many prisons into death traps.

But it is only a reminder of the fate of many people incarcerated in Illinois who face death-by-incarceration every year, due to decades of extreme and inhumane sentencing policies.

Victims of crime, convicted people, and their loved ones all suffer when people are locked up for years beyond the needs of public safety. Nearly every other state has mechanisms to release long-term incarcerated individuals who are ready to rejoin society. Illinois does not.

If nothing changes, over 5,000 Illinoisans will be required to grow old and die in prison.


COVID-19 UPDATE: Joseph Dole & Raúl Dorado

“It took Russell dying just for them to pass out a single extra bar of soap,” Joseph Dole, who is incarcerated at Stateville, wrote to The Appeal in a message received on Wednesday through the prison’s messaging system. “There are a lot of sick guys. …. Many have been sick for weeks.”

As of Tuesday, 24 staff members and 95 prisoners from Stateville tested positive for COVID-19, representing more than 80 percent of cases in all Illinois prisons, according to the Department of Corrections website. Lab results are pending for 187 prisoners statewide.

“We are all already ill!” Raúl Dorado, who is incarcerated at Stateville, wrote to The Appeal in a message received Wednesday.  “Last night they passed out a disposable face mask,” wrote Dorado, who is a board member of the activist coalition Parole Illinois. “Talk about too little too late.” Staff members, however, are provided “a new mask each day, latex gloves, hand sanitizer and now surgical aprons, shoe covers. We are not.”

The only way to receive medical attention, he wrote, is “to become unresponsive.”

Joseph Dole & Raúl Dordo are Board Members for Parole Illinois.

Raúl has an underlying health issue which adds urgency to his need for a Medical Furlough.



We received word that dozens of people incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (including one of our board members, Raul Dorado) are exhibiting hallmark symptoms of CV19 (fever, body aches, cold chills, inability to smell or taste).

The sick are returned to their cells and are receiving no medical care, unless they are unresponsive and their neighbors call for a medic.

There are instances of kitchen workers complaining of CV-19-like symptoms and still made to work preparing food for the entire incarcerated population.

Prison administration and medical officials have known for weeks about dozens of people suffering with CV 19-like symptom, but they have not been forthcoming about releasing this information to the public.