* 20 ILCS 3305/7…
Sec. 7. Emergency Powers of the Governor. In the event of a disaster […]
(1) To suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing procedures for conduct of State business, or the orders, rules and regulations of any State agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action, including emergency purchases, by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, in coping with the disaster.
* 730 ILCS 5/3-11-1…
The Department [of Corrections] may extend the limits of the place of confinement of a committed person under prescribed conditions, so that he may leave such place on a furlough. Whether or not such person is to be accompanied on furlough shall be determined by the chief administrative officer. The Department may make an appropriate charge for the necessary expenses of accompanying a person on furlough. Such furloughs may be granted for a period of time not to exceed 14 days, for any of the following purposes: […]
to obtain medical, psychiatric or psychological services when adequate services are not otherwise available;
* Executive Order 2020-21 issued yesterday…
THEREFORE, by the powers vested in me as the Governor of the State of Illinois, and pursuant to Sections 7(1), 7(2), 7(8), and 7(12) of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, 20 ILCS 3305, I hereby order the following, effective immediately and for the remainder of the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations:
Section 1. The following provisions of the Illinois Unified Code of Corrections, 730 ILCS 5/3-11-11 [sic], allowing for the furlough of IDOC inmates are hereby suspended as follows: (a) as set forth in Section (a), providing the allowable time period for furloughs, the phrase “for a period of time not to exceed 14 days”, is suspended and furlough periods shall be allowed for up to the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations as determined by the Director of IDOC; and (b) as set forth in Section (a)(2), the phrase “to obtain medical, psychiatric or psychological services when adequate services are not otherwise available” shall be suspended and furloughs for medical, psychiatric or psychological purposes shall be allowed at the Director’s discretion and consistent with the guidance of the IDOC Acting Medical Director.
Section 2. The IDOC shall file emergency rules as needed to effectuate the intent of this Executive Order. [Emphasis added.]
Pritzker’s action came as 62 inmates and 40 Corrections Department staffers had been confirmed to have COVID-19. Two inmates at Stateville Correctional Center have died of the disease.
Several lawsuits have been filled by representatives of prisoners contending the state has been slow to act in the face of the pandemic. The lawsuits noted as many as 13,000 prisoners could be eligible for release, including some convicted of nonviolent offenses, are elderly, at a higher risk of getting sick or have served most of their sentences.
The Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago was one of the organizations seeking to get some prison inmates released. Director Alan Mills called Pritzker’s move a positive one that will allow the Corrections Department to transfer thousands of prisoners to places where they can follow the governor’s orders to shelter in place and maintain social distancing.
* According to the governor’s office, this EO will apply to prisoners who are medically vulnerable, but that determination will be done on a case-by-case, one-by-one basis. For instance, if they’re in an infirmary, or they’re on cancer drugs, or some such.
But even that won’t automatically result in a release because risk assessments will still be conducted. So, inmates convicted of violent offenses with years remaining on their terms are not likely to be included. Most Stateville inmates would fall into that category, for example.
* From the Illinois Constitution…
SECTION 8.1. CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS.
(a) Crime victims, as defined by law, shall have the following rights: […]
The right to be notified of the conviction, the sentence, the imprisonment, and the release of the accused.
Finding those victims is a challenge in many cases.
* IDOC also has to make sure the inmates have an appropriate place to release them to. They need an address so they can be monitored. Homeless shelters are now full, so that option is out. The state is working with non-profits to find places to send people to, but that is not a simple task.
IDOC has already released 450 inmates during the crisis, the governor’s office says. This new EO won’t necessarily increase that pace, but it will allow the state to get around the 14-day statutory limit.
And, remember, IDOC still has to draft and publish emergency rules to implement this EO.