August 13, 2020 – Chicago, Il.
Restore Justice & Partner Advocates Oppose Transfers Between Jails, Prisons
Restore Justice joins partner organizations in opposing efforts by county sheriffs to transfer incarcerated people into state prisons. We released a statement with Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Illinois Justice Project, Illinois Prison Project, Uptown People’s Law Center, and Westside Justice Center. Read it here.
We are alarmed by the public health threat posed by the resumption of transfers of people from jail, which endangers the lives of tens of thousands of incarcerated people as well as thousands of people who work in the Illinois Department of Corrections and live in surrounding communities. The decision to resume transfers emerged out of an ongoing legal battle between the State of Illinois and local county sheriffs, who challenged the state’s decision to freeze transfers during the pandemic. It appears most county jails are not abiding by the common-sense measures outlined in Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines for transfer from county jails to prisons, including 14-day quarantine of transferred detainees, social distancing, masking, and testing requirements.
The result of these transfers could be disastrous. On the afternoon of Thursday, August 6th, people who had been detained in Logan County Jail were sent to Stateville Correctional Facility without adequate PPE, shackled together by their ankles, standing just inches apart. Although shackling is common practice in Illinois jails and prisons, the scene was astonishing given the danger of close contact during the pandemic. Two of those seven people immediately tested positive for COVID, prompting the Illinois Department of Corrections to refuse to accept the group into the prison.
People with loved ones in prison remain deeply concerned about COVID-19. “Prisons in Illinois are overcrowded and unsanitary, and there is little, if any, healthcare. Social distancing is impossible in prison, and keeping ten of thousands of incarcerated people on strict lockdowns for over five months is not an answer. Unless there are massive amounts of early releases, along with widespread testing, there is no way we can protect those we have locked away. I have waited 25 years to see my son come home, I do not want to lose him to COVID in prison,” said Julie Anderson, who has a son incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Restore Justice, which comprises Restore Justice Foundation and Restore Justice Illinois, works to address issues faced by those serving life or de-facto life sentences, their families, and their communities. Founded in 2015 by a dedicated group of advocates that included the late former Congressman, Federal Judge, and White House Counsel Abner Mikva, Restore Justice trains and supports advocates, conducts research, nurtures partnerships, and develops policy solutions that will roll back ineffective “tough on crime” policies of the past, replacing them with compassionate, smart, and safe policies for the future.