Urgent Recommendations: COVID-19 and Prison Communities

Urgent Recommendations: COVID-19 and Prison Communities

Updated March 17, 2020
Read a more detailed list of recommendations and other information here.

The Illinois Prison Project and Restore Justice are making concrete recommendations to decrease demand on health systems and protect both inmates and communities. Illinois already has laws in place that will allow the State to adopt each recommendation immediately. Find more detail on the below recommendations, including relevant statutes, in the links. 

We are asking the Governor to:

  • Immediately grant all pending commutation petitions that seek release based on substantiated terminal illness. (authority)
  • Encourage IDOC to use its discretion to release elderly people with less than 12 months to serve and people serving Class 2-4 felonies who are vulnerable to serious illness or death due to an underlying medical condition. (authority)
  • Commute the sentences of anyone over the age of 60 with less than five years remaining to time served. Commute the sentences of all others over 60 to the judicially imposed term with the possibility of expedited parole in order to make these prisoners eligible for release after an expedited review by the Prisoner Review Board. (authority)
  • Encourage IDOC and the Prisoner Review Board to expedite credit restoration, implementation of discretionary release programs, and every other step necessary to bring IDOC’s population back to capacity. (authority)

We are also asking IDOC to:

  • Immediately release elderly people with less than 12 months to serve and people serving Class 2-4 felonies who are vulnerable to serious illness or death due to an underlying medical condition. (authority)
  • Fast-track all requests for earned time credits made by inmates over the age of 60, all inmates who are due to be released within the next 24 months, and all at higher risk due to underlying medical conditions. (authority)
  • Provide a two-month supply of hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, alcohol-based disinfectants, gloves, and face masks to every correctional institution throughout the state. 
  • Provide all inmates with a personal supply of soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Provide all inmates with increased provisions of liquids, including juices and soups, as part of state-provided meals, as well as increased access to commissary. 
  • Ensure inmates who become sick are treated according to medical standards and with dignity. While individuals who become sick will need to be isolated, they must be well cared for. 

Finally, we are asking State’s Attorneys to:

  • Resolve all pending cases for people over the age of 60 or who are medically vulnerable.  If a sentence is necessary, recommend supervision, deferred prosecution, or time served.  
  • Resentence all people who are over 60 who have less than 5 years on their sentence to time served with supervision. (authority)

Read more detailed recommendations and find more information here.

  • Open Letter to Cook County Regarding COVID-19 and Cook County Jail: Protect Public Health through Decarceration | Chicago Community Bond Fund
    Posted at 16:44h, 17 March Reply

    […] COVID-19 in Prisons: Mitigating a Disaster (joint response and resource guide) […]

  • Colleen Feehan
    Posted at 18:25h, 17 March Reply

    To all decision-makers:

    Please take these recommendations into consideration.

  • Kris Urich
    Posted at 20:10h, 17 March Reply

    My guys been in Parchman Mississippi for 25 years. They have turned him down 6 times for no reason. Hes up for parole again this November. With this virus going and his age they need to release him. Hes trying rebuild what life he has left. Please give me my family back PLEASE!

  • Dr. Christie Billups
    Posted at 22:07h, 17 March Reply

    One of the ways that we can ensure that vulnerable individuals inside confined facilities remain healthy is to ensure cleanliness. I can’t speak to all of the facilities, but I know that workers in Dixon have not been provided soap to put in the bucket for cleaning floors and other surfaces. One associate inside shared that he uses bits of his own soap to give some cleaning power to his efforts, but otherwise, he’s just hoping that plain old water is better than nothing. This is unacceptable. I’m guessing that there are copious examples of simple fixes that could be addressed without major expense, some of them named above. No matter what people inside have done, they are human beings, and the state is currently responsible for their well-being. Thank you for using my tax dollars responsibly.

    • Alissa Rivera
      Posted at 14:39h, 18 March Reply

      Thank you for sharing this, Dr. Billups!

      • Linda Gleason
        Posted at 00:56h, 20 March Reply

        Dear Mr. Billups This is a very disturbing to read….I have a son in Pinckneyviile CC that is experiencing the same disregarding human right;s and well being of the health of the incarcerated!! With the deadly Coronavirus spreading like wildfire they are at the mercy of the Governor and State Correctional facility..I am appalled with all the Media coverage and daily briefing’s not one had mentioned the concern for our incarcerated and protecting them..and what plan is in place if there is a mass outbreak within the Illinois prison’s..Just got UPDATE!!!I IDOC FACILITIES ON LOCKDOWN OUTBREAK OF ILLNESS WITH FLU LIKE SYMPTOMS..ABC 7 new’s 3/19/2020 @ 7:10P.M. The 2 facilities are..SOUTHERNWESTERN ILLINOIS CORRECTIONS CENTER IN EAST ST. LOUIS and ROBINSON CORRECTIONAL CENTER NEAR THE INDIANA BORDER. .”’WE THE FAMILIES NEED TO RALLY TOGETHER AND GET ATTENTION TO OUR LOVED ONES !! CONTACT THE DIRECTOR OF IDOC AND OUR GOVENOR AND SENATORS!! DEMAND THEY GET TREATED AND TREATED FAIRLY!! GOD BLESS AND BE WITH THEM!! WE HAVE A MISSION TO GET THEM THE JUSTICE THEY SO DESERVE AND US AS FAMILIES NEED TO SEE BE CARRIED OUT!! I WAS REFERRED BY ALISSA RIVERA TO A IDOC PRISON HOTLINE PLEASE EVERYONE CONTACT THEM 217-558-2200 ANY ONE GET ANY UPDATES ON THE IDOC CONDITIONS PLEASE KEEP THIS CHAIN GOING!!

        • Kierra Forrest
          Posted at 18:29h, 06 May Reply

          To all decision makers, I come to you asking that you all strongly consider releasing my uncle Maurice Jackson Menard IL correctional Facility due to Covid-19. He is a first time offender and who’s been doing good while incarcerated. He helps other inmates and had a job is there. He has family and friends who misses him dearly. Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

  • Linda Gleason
    Posted at 18:47h, 18 March Reply

    My son has a serious underlying medical condition..that compromises his immune system.. He is very vulnerable to infection and viruses….He is Incarcerated in IDOC FACILITY.. He has not been supplied with any preventive supplies..soap nor hand sanitizer.. and say’s the cleaning and sanitizing of the prison is not being carried out.. Who do I contact to consider expedite parole….he is very vulnerable to this CORONA VIRUS. which could result in his death if exposed to this virus!! Any help would be so appreciated..Praying for all our Loved ones incarcerated.. that they are not forgotten and suffer serious consequences and preventable death’s!! Praying for direction and help..

    • Alissa Rivera
      Posted at 18:56h, 19 March Reply

      Hi Linda,

      1) Contact the IDOC hotline and report the sanitation and cleaning issues.

      Call (217) 558-2200.
      The call center is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
      Email doc.covid@illinois.gov.

      2) Email I’m going to email you at firststudent101@yahoo.com for more specifics on your son’s case. I don’t know what we can do but want to get the word out.

      • kimberly mckinnis
        Posted at 17:45h, 20 March Reply

        is this for cook county inmates also? im trying to find out more information on the release of cook county inmates.

        • Alissa Rivera
          Posted at 15:00h, 23 March Reply

          Hi Kimberly, Find more information about Cook County Jail here: chicagobond.org/call-in
          The Chicago Community Bond Fond has all the steps you need to call and email the relevant officials. Thank you for your help!

  • Linda Gleason
    Posted at 00:21h, 20 March Reply

    Thank you!! I sent an email to doc.covid@illinois.gov praying to get a response. I will call the hotline first thing tomorrow for I opened this message after calling hour’s..I am sending you more detailed info on my son..praying to get him help..I so appreciate you responding to my concern;s… feel helpless..worried and scared for him and all his fellow inmates. Please be looking for my email response to you..God Bless us all and keep us well and safe at this trying time in all our lives..

  • Linda Gleason
    Posted at 01:05h, 20 March Reply


    • Linda Vega
      Posted at 04:21h, 06 May Reply

      My name is Linda and my son has young children, and , has a sinus medical condition that makes breathing challenging.. He is at Shawnee and has had several jobs, , trained dogs for veterans, been a peer counselor, facilitated several classes, and has several college classes completed. He h as s a safe place to come home to with clergy , family and community support. We are very concerned for his health. Stay safe..God bless you

  • Wendy Hines
    Posted at 17:30h, 22 March Reply

    My Son is in East Moline Correctional . They need to let out the non Violence prisoners. And they need to do it now, before it to late.My son locked up for a violation .

    • Janice Tucker
      Posted at 19:42h, 29 March Reply

      Good afternoon, I have a love one in Robinson correctional facility who suffers with Ashma. My concern is due to this Pandemic will he be able to qualify for early release. He has less than a year left of his time serve, I am very concerned that if he gets sick with this virus due to Ashma, he won’t be able to fight it off. Please help in the release of those who have medical problems as well as others who need to be released, such as the older population.

    • Vondessa London
      Posted at 14:18h, 11 May Reply

      Good morning, I to have a son that is in East Moline Correctional Center. Once I learned of many inmates being released that had non-violent cases I called the facility. I asked was my son eligible to be released due to a non-violent conviction, the officer said if he is then he’ll know and inform you. I have no idea why they always find a way of you checking on your loved ones into something bad. He literally only had two months left and could’ve been released early but of course that wasn’t the case. Hopefully everyone that has someone in the system they will be home to their families safe and sound. God bless each and everyone of you and your incarcerated family member.

  • Emmy Lou
    Posted at 23:09h, 24 March Reply

    All I can speak as as a person very involved in social justice, no credentials just care and compassion. These people are human beings aside from what they have or have not done and deserve the very basic rights of all humanity during this unprecedented virus – cleanliness. there are many other issues that cannot be corrected in this situation but no excuse for lack of cleanliness. Please use the relatively small amount needed to insure this.

  • Beth Bluhm
    Posted at 23:12h, 29 March Reply

    That was in early February that they locked down for flu. All of Illinois prisons are now on lock down. But Robinson does not have the flu like symptoms now. My son is in Robinson and they locked down in February for several weeks for flu.

  • Judy Worthy
    Posted at 02:08h, 03 April Reply

    Your consideration will be humbly appreciated….pleas help.

  • Jamie Hansen
    Posted at 11:59h, 06 April Reply

    I had assumed that DR. CHRISTIE BILLUPS comment thanking the state for using his tax dollars responsibly was said sarcastically because obviously no logical, empathetic, educated doctor would find the complete lack of cleaning and hygiene products, as well as inadequate health care as a matter of public record, to be any sufficient means or combating the pandemic of the Covid virus. At least, I hope that is the case. The Doctor seems to be supporting the fact that any human deserves humane and healthy treatment despite their actions for being in prison. If I am correct in this analysis. I sincerely hope we get doctors like him in the IDOC, because currently, from the little I know, The IDOC health care environment provides the opposite of this mentality in which the inmates unfortunately are forced to circumnavigate their health care needs.

    I hope the best to all of our loved ones during this anxious and apprehensive time of pandemic and unjust human rights violations.

    • brenda marquez
      Posted at 02:35h, 30 April Reply

      love the way you write. i am currently writing a letter to the person in charge of the immediate release on inmates in New Jersey. Do you think you could proofread it and fix it for me? 🙂

  • Judy Worthy
    Posted at 01:22h, 10 April Reply

    All we are asking for is basic humanity. Your help will be graciously appreciated.

  • Jacqueline Brown
    Posted at 17:06h, 14 April Reply

    We’re praying for all. God does answer prayers

  • Florinda Arrieta
    Posted at 16:22h, 24 April Reply

    Let he who is among you that is without sin cast the first stone it’s time to end mass incarceration end life without parole forever let juvenile lifers go and end over crowed prisons

  • Cynthia
    Posted at 23:32h, 24 April Reply

    Anthony case is pending in cook county circuit court and his original charge was felony murder but he was fined guilty of 2different first degree murder and arm robbery where he wasn’t even the driver of the vehicle and the state dismissed the first degree murder at the end of the trail Anthony has done 29yrs in prison and 14 yrs was extra time due to them dismissing his charges can you please help him get home he has high blood pressure also

  • Mary Aiardo
    Posted at 01:24h, 25 April Reply

    You are the bomb! Your life is dedicated to those that need help and regular people (who do not know anyone in prison) just disregard. You enlighten people by saying everyone has a story and fight for the underdog! The world sorely needs more people like you.

  • Khandi Harris
    Posted at 18:43h, 25 April Reply

    Anthony case is still pending in cook county circuit court and his original charge was felony murder but he was found guilty of 2 different first degree murder and arm robbery where he was not the driver of the vehicle and the state dismissed the first degree murder at the end of trial Anthony had done 29yrs in prison and an extra 14yrs for a crime that was dismissed

  • Khandi Harris
    Posted at 01:00h, 27 April Reply

    Anthony has served 29 yrs in hills correctional facility and which 14 of those years he’s been dong an extra time for a crime that was dismissed

  • Khandi Harris
    Posted at 01:04h, 27 April Reply

    Make viral help free me
    Restorejustice.org post a comment click on urgent recommendations

    Anthony case is still pending in cook county circuit court and his original charge was felony murder but he was found guilty of 2 different first degree murders and arm robbery where he was not the driver of the vehicle and the state dismissed the first degree murders at the end of trial Anthony had done 29yrs in prison and an extra 14yrs for a crime that was dismissed

  • Cynthia Harris
    Posted at 02:24h, 27 April Reply

    Anthony allen case is still pending in cook county circuit court and his original charge was felony murder but he was found guilty of 2 different first degree murders and arm robbery where he was not the driver of the vehicle and the state dismissed the first degree murders at the end of trial Allen had done 29yrs in prison and an extra 14yrs for a crime that was dismissed

  • Lauvanna Bradfield
    Posted at 14:03h, 27 April Reply

    Good morning, I have a question? I have a incarcerated sibling at Dixon Correctional center and he has a severe case of COPD. He still has some time left on his sentence but he has less than seven years. Is there anything that can be done to help him? Are there any steps that can be taken to probably get him home even if it’s on supervision. He is the only sibling that I have left and I don’t want to lose him. Can anyone point me in the right direction.

  • Erica Deloach
    Posted at 20:35h, 27 April Reply

    Hi my name is erica daughter of erskine he is currently being held at hills correctional facility and I’m asking that we can help release him he served a healthy sentence for accountability and been a respectful prisoner since being found guilty. Erskine has had thyroid cancer and had surgery we are asking that he get release so he can get the love he need thank you

  • Illinois COVID 19 in Detention - World Peace Foundation
    Posted at 13:51h, 04 May Reply

    […] by extreme sentences imposed on our youth. See their Urgent Recommendations first issued on March 17th and updated on April […]

  • Aaron Jackson
    Posted at 15:44h, 11 May Reply

    I’m recommending that govornor Pritzker bring back 50% and the parole board, because truth and sentencing is inhumane and harsh!

  • Ronald Lamar
    Posted at 21:25h, 12 May Reply

    My name is Ronald senior my son Ronald junior is incarcerated at Centralia he ask got his education since being in and also became a better person I feel he should be released early and given a second chance

  • Marcella Lamar Connor
    Posted at 22:02h, 12 May Reply

    My name is Marcella I am the grandmother of Ronald I am asking that you look into his case he has served 16 years since the age of 16 I helped raise him and I know he is a good person and deserve a second chance I love him and miss him so much please help bring him home

  • Shawnta Yates
    Posted at 18:07h, 18 May Reply

    Hello my name is Shawnta Yates the fiancé of Aaron Jackson. He’s in the MSU part of Menard Cor Center. He’s served over 10 yrs of his sentence. Has never been in any incident while in prison, has never been in any trouble, has never been to segregation, he mentors younger people, has worked in the dietary part of the prison and has certificates for differe’nt classes he has taken. He is a model inmates! So i’m asking that governor Pritzker commute his sentence, not only because of his stellar behavior..but because of this deadly disease (Corono Virus)! Mr. Jackson is a diabetic, and the Coronovirus puts his health and life in jeopardy! Mr.Jackson has children who supports him, and loves him. Including a 11yr old, who he’s looking forward to getting out and help support. He has always provided for his children. He deserves a second chance! So i’m aking that he be considered for immediate release,because of the amount of time he has already served, his behavior while in prison and most importantly, his underlined medical condition.

  • Aaron Jackson
    Posted at 21:14h, 21 May Reply

    I’m asking the governor for immediate release for my father Aaron JacksonB-26006 he’s in the Menard Cor. Center. He’s been incarcerated for more than 10 yrs, for a crime he didn’t commit, my father is a good man and deserves an oppurtunity at another chance. Before my father was convicted,he was and still is a pivitol part of me and my siblings life, he taught us to do the right things and be responsible adults. I’m currently a Sergent in the U.S Army, stationed in Kentucky, my father is a big influence in my life. I’m asking, that governor Pritzker commute my fathers sentence, because of the Coronovirus pandemic, because he has a compromising medical condition.My father is a diabetic!! He’s been a model imate, has never been in any trouble while serving his time, has never had a single disiplinary report against him, has participated in the Crossroads prison bible study,and received certificates,that his conselor has in his file, he mentors younger inmates, to try and deter them from returning to prison! He has enormous support from his family and friends, and has a loving home to go to ,if granted release. He also has a job waiting on him! I’m more than confident my father would be a productive citizen if released. I talk to my father several times a week, and he’s always impresses on me his innocence, and his desire to get back into society, so he can provide for my younger sister and brother. And i pray that governor Pritzker allow him this oppurtunity. Thank You!

  • Jennifer Cunningham
    Posted at 09:28h, 23 May Reply

    My loved one is in ILLINOIS RIVER CORRECTIONS in CANTON IL he is there as a parole violator with no new charges. He is being unfairly kept in 23 hour lock down with one hour out and GIVEN ONLY ONE PHONE CALL A MONTH — this is inhumane and unfair and considered torture after so many days . I called IDOC and was told all parole violators are kept in seg— this is WRONG seg is to punish someone- my loved one STEPHEN didn’t do anything to deserve any further discipline or punishment. Other facilities are giving inmates free phone time and free video visits and my loved one is BEING RESTRICTED TO ONE PHONE CALL A MONTH— SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE. HE DESERVES EQUAL TREATMENT.

  • Whitley Taylor
    Posted at 18:20h, 26 May Reply

    My younger brother Gregory is held at Shawnee Correctional Facility in Vienna, IL and has a little over a year left of his sentence. This is his first prison sentence and was not a deserved sentence at all. He has several medical conditions that put him at risk of contracting COVID-19. He has had good behavior and has tried to enroll in several programs to lower his sentence. He has also taken anger management and participated in other groups and earned certificates during his time in prison. My brother isn’t a bad person he has just allowed himself to be put in some bad situations that consequently cost him his freedom. My family is asking for his release so that he can get back to his 2 year old son, and to lessen his chances of getting covid.

  • Echo Hampton
    Posted at 18:37h, 30 May Reply

    To Gov. Pritzker,
    I am writing to you about my father, who is in Danville Correctional Center, and has under 4 years left on his sentence. He has been a model prisoner and has a place on parole. These are the types of inmates that should be considered first for release. His name is Micheal. I really truly miss my father. He has a wonderful family to support him and whatever he needs to do. He also has grandchildren that would love to meet him and to be a part of his life. My dad is 60 years old and has missed a lot of his kid’s lives. So please consider releasing those most at risk. Thank you.

  • Tearra Webster
    Posted at 00:33h, 08 June Reply

    Hello my cousin is being held at Champaign county jail for a self-defense case in which he is being Wrongfully prosecuted. We recently posted bond for him in light of the COVID-19 and him having serious Asthma Dx. He also received a letter from parole review bond waiving his rights. We posted bond for him on 4/19/20 and they have not released him IDOC has not responded to us on several attempts and calls . I have also contacted the Prison Board Review and no one has gotten back to me. When I called the 800-666-6744 and asked for my cousin’s parole agent to call back , she did and acted as if she was not his parole agent but when I called back again today the agent on the 800 number said she was . Who can I call to file a complaint to or get information for his release he has been sitting in jail since 4/19/20.

  • Veronica H Lowe
    Posted at 03:21h, 17 July Reply

    To the Governor, Kim Fox, The Parole Board, and all decision makers. I write to you all asking if you will consider releasing my son Donzell, Stateville Correctional Center due to the Corona Virus COVID-19. He has several serious underlying conditions which makes him very vulnerable to the virus. He has diabetes, high blood pressure, failing kidneys, swollen legs and feet making it difficult to walk, and he’s had triple bypass surgery. Several inmates have died from this virus. I’m afraid that if he’s exposed to or contracts this virus it could result in his death. Can you please tell me who I would need to get in contact with to find out what I need to do to get my son released? Thank you!

  • Adriane Harris
    Posted at 23:34h, 13 August Reply

    Marty was sentenced at 15 years old for a murder charge; He has served his 25 year sentence. He has been charged with 28 more years for charges he encountered while incarcerated which stem from not receiving the mental health treatment he needed. Please release him as his mother is sick and needs her son back. Resentence all people who have served a 20-25 year term in prison.

  • Christina Rapp
    Posted at 01:17h, 11 September Reply

    My guys in Robinson correctional facility n they have the virus really bad and what sucks is no matter how safe he is Hes going to catch it I can hear it in his voice hes is worried about getting sick it bothers me bec that virus is going to get into his lungs in witch his are not good from a childhood accident I wish there was a way they could just come home on a ankle monitoring that way they would be much safer…bec this stresses me out and it hurts the family’s Im sure no one wants to get that cl that covid took there loved one bec the I doc cant contain the virus from spreading go on message your politician and leave messages to them bout getting help to our inmates!

  • sharon zelenak
    Posted at 03:38h, 14 November Reply

    My Son is in Pontiac correctional center, and he has been in prison for 12 years. He has been very good, and just wants to come home. We shall care for him. even if its on an ankle bracelet. Actually he is needed at home. Maybe the Governor could help us out. We are all terrified of the covid, and worried that we will never get to see him on his own home farm. Please send him home.

  • Mar
    Posted at 18:37h, 06 May Reply

    My loved one is incarcerated at Illinois River. There is still abuse, inhumane conditions, unfairness, negligence and a slew of inconsistencies and actions by staff, which violates the rights of inmates serving prison time at this facility. Inmates are bathing as well as drinking contaminated water and being served food that is spoiled with visible mold and questionable, at one’s glance. I am seeking help in bringing awareness to this matter in hopes of getting the attention of our governor and or anyone who will look into the matter and help in restoring some dignity and basic, necessary resources for these inmates whom, even though have committed crimes, are still human beings. These inmates are being locked down frequently and are being deprived and stripped from their minor privileges because, the facility is short staffed or for no goodreason. Many times staff refuses to tell family members why these lockdowns are in place or to even provide any details as to why these frequent lockdowns continue to happen. According to inmates, these lockdowns are happening because there isnt enough staff available to run the daily operations, therefore resulting in more and more frequent lockdowns which prevent these inmates from going about their daily activities. These inmates are being treated unfairly and the family members aren’t being heard or acknowledged when we call for answers. The inmates at Illinois River Correctional Center are already serving time and paying for their crimes as sentenced. In no way, shape or form are these inmates asking for anything other than what they are entitled to. Safe drinking and bathing water, education and rehabilitation programs, as promised, clean and decent living quarters, healthy meals, free of mold and who knows what, medical attention provided by competent health care professionals and just basic, decent daily, necessary, resources for everyday living. Not everyone in custody, serving prison time is guilty of the crimes they are there for. Some inmates are actually in prison unjustly or because there has been mistakes or lack of financial resources to prove their innocence. Some inmates have never even committed a crime until now, and are truly remorseful. My point is, that even though some of us may think that they deserve whatever it is that they get, because they are criminals anyway, may not in fact be true at all.. There are many inmates that do deserve a second chance or that really don’t deserve what is happening to them.

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