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!!

  • 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 Alissa Rivera!! 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


  • 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.

  • 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.

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