Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed 4/2/2020 to Force IL State Prisoner Release!


Prisoner Angst

On April 2, 2020, a Federal Habeas Corpus lawsuit was filed against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and Illinois by members of the Community Justice Civil Rights Clinic and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center (Northwestern Pritzker School of Law), the Uptown People’s Law Center, the Illinois Prison Project, Equip For Equality, and the law firm, Loevy & Loevy, which charges IDOC and Illinois with unnecessarily endangering the public and Illinois inmates to exposure to Covid-19. The lawsuit is comprised of several challenges in response to the Covid-19 contagion raging at Stateville Correctional in IL and threatening to expand throughout the IL prison system. It demands that IL immediately release Illinois prisoners most vulnerable to the Covid-19 as California, New York, Iowa, Colorado, Vermont, and many jails across the US have already done. The lawsuit cites several measures already authorized under IL law which the State could have already used to reduce IL’s prison population substantially. The lawsuit states that had IL and IDOC done the following that the contagion affecting Stateville Correctional, for example, could have been minimized or avoided:

“…Illinois law provides several established mechanisms for reducing the prison population, all of which are available to the Governor and Director in this emergency. The Governor and Director of IDOC have authority pursuant to various Illinois statutes to reduce the population in Illinois prisons. Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-11-1(a)(2), the IDOC may release a person from prison on medical furlough “to obtain medical, psychiatric or psychological services when adequate services are not otherwise available.” The IDOC therefore has statutory authority to re- lease on medical furlough individuals who are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 either due to age or pre-existing medical conditions…”
“…Pursuant to the Electronic Monitoring and Home Detention Law, 730 ILCS 5/5- 8A-1 et seq. (“Home Detention Law”), IDOC has the authority and obligation to implement procedures through which eligible prisoners may serve a portion or all of their custodial sentence in home detention. The Home Detention Law directs the Department to issue administrative directives to allow for specifically enumerated categories of state prisoners to serve portions of their sentence in home detention. Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-8A-3(d), IDOC may place a prisoner in an electronic monitoring or home detention program if that person is over 55 years old, has 12 months or less to serve on their sentence, has served at least 25% of their sentenced prison term, and is serving a sentence for conviction of an offense other than for certain sex offenses…”

“…Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-8A-3(e), IDOC may place a person of any age serving a sentence for conviction of a Class 2, 3, or 4 felony offense which is not an excluded offense in an electronic monitoring or home detention program at any time…”
“…Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-8A-3(b) and (c), IDOC may place a person of any age serving a sentence for conviction of a Class 1 or Class X felony offense, other than an excluded offense, in an electronic monitoring or home detention program for a period not to exceed the last 90 days of incarceration…”
“…Pursuant to the Administrative Code, 20 Ill. Adm. Code 107.210, the Director of IDOC may award to eligible prisoners up to 180 days of discretionary good conduct credit..”

The full text of the lawsuit is below: