Illinois Gov. JB Pritzer is refusing to say if he would support a bill that would require transparency around prison deaths after a WBEZ investigation found prison staff ignored warning signs and falsified documents connected to three men who died on three consecutive days at Menard prison. An internal investigation by the Department of Corrections largely absolved staff of wrongdoing, and a correctional officer who admitted to falsifying documents remains employed.
Family members say they were given very little information about the deaths of their loved ones at Menard. A bill that would have required jails and prisons to provide family members and the Illinois attorney general with information about prison deaths recently failed to pass the state legislature, but lawmakers and advocates say they plan to try and pass a similar bill soon. […]
At least 166 people died while in Illinois prisons from January 2017 to September 2018, according to records obtained by WBEZ. In around half of those cases, IDOC’s research department had no cause of death listed. When WBEZ requested records on specific deaths, the department claimed that in some cases, it didn’t have even basic information like death certificates or death reports.
The bill is here.
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The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association both opposed the bill last session.
IDOC couldn’t oppose that bill without the consent of the governor’s office. That means the governor himself is opposed. It would be nice if his office could’ve outlined to WBEZ what it would like to see done about this.