Rep McCombie questions Gov JB Pritzker’s response to the spread of COVID of inmates in IDOC

Dear Acting Director Jeffreys:

As you know, Governor J.B. Pritzker has taken several actions regarding inmates in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) in response to the spread of Coronavirus throughout Illinois. Those actions have greatly increased our concerns about the public safety of the communities we represent.

On Monday, April 6, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-21, which gives you the discretion to utilize furloughs to allow certain inmates to leave IDOC facilities. Public information regarding this policy change has been limited. Therefore, we would like your response to the following questions:

  • What are the medical, psychiatric, or psychological conditions that would make an inmate eligible for furlough?
  • Will the type or classification of offense be a criterion to determine an inmate’s eligibility for furlough? If so, what offenders will be eligible for furlough?
  • Will victims, the public or local law enforcement in the communities where the furloughed inmate will be, released be notified prior to the furlough taking effect?
  • Will furloughed inmates go to medical or psychiatric facilities or other locations upon leaving IDOC custody?
  • Will conditions be placed upon furloughed inmates during their release? If so, what conditions will be placed upon furloughed inmates?
  • Will furloughed inmates be required to have regular check-ins with their home facility?
  • Will inmates be furloughed on electronic monitoring? If so, are they eligible for the 12 hours of free movement policy that was recently changed by the Prisoner Review Board and IDOC?
  • Will furloughed inmates be accompanied by IDOC staff during their time outside of IDOC facilities?
  • What will be the process for furloughed inmates to return to IDOC custody?

Last week, Governor Pritzker announced similar policy changes that stops the transfer of offenders from county jails to IDOC facilities in most cases and allows for the early release of certain IDOC inmates. Information regarding these policy changes has been limited as well, but one news report this week stated 450 inmates have been released from IDOC custody. Please provide a response to the following information requests:

  •  A list containing the name of every inmate released under this policy change containing the following information:
    • The crime for which the inmate was sentenced to IDOC.
    • The criminal history used in the analysis for the early release decision of each inmate.
  • What offenders would you accept the transfer of from county jails to IDOC facilities?
  • Are inmates being released on electronic monitoring? If so, are they eligible for the 12 hours of free movement policy that was recently changed by the Prisoner Review Board and IDOC?

Lastly, on March 31, 2020, Governor Pritzker stated, “… Any and every one of our DOC residents who falls seriously ill with COVID-19 will receive available medical assistance to get through it, including an ICU bed and a ventilator, if necessary… Hospitals that refuse to take on residents of the Department of Corrections will be called out by name, and those that refuse to operate in accordance to their oath can and will be compelled to do so by law.”

We represent many Critical Access Hospitals with limited intensive care capabilities, particularly under the current circumstances. The majority of IDOC facilities are located outside of the Chicagoland area and in communities with Critical Access Hospitals. We request additional information on what your expectations are for the hospitals and medical facilities located near IDOC facilities and your contingency plans on how IDOC may utilize those hospitals and medical facilities.

Upholding the rule of law and keeping our communities safe are some of our top priorities. We look forward to your prompt reply to this inquiry as we work to maintain the public safety of our state and keep our constituents informed on Governor Pritzker’s executive actions.