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Everyone has their own priorities

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Let’s stipulate right off the bat that there’s a strong argument against the Illinois sex offender law’s prisoner release requirements

After serving 10 years in prison for criminal sexual assault, Marcus Barnes was counting down the days until his release date on Dec. 17, 2018. […]

But when his release date finally arrived, he was told that the Chicago apartment he was planning on moving to was too close to a home day care facility. It would be a violation of housing restrictions imposed on him as a person on the sex offender registry, and, therefore, he would remain in prison. […]

Barnes’ family scrambled to find alternatives. They say they found 11 different housing options for him, only to have each of them rejected by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). And so, 16 months after his original release date, he was still at Graham Correctional Center when a guard there tested positive for COVID-19. […]

Now, a coalition of 45 local and national criminal justice reform organizations, led by the Chicago 400 Alliance, is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to ease conviction-based housing restrictions for the duration of the pandemic. The move would allow people who have completed their sentences to finally leave prison. […]

She is hoping the governor will issue an executive order.

I doubt the governor has the power to override state law on this. Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Frankfort) has been working on a bill to streamline the mandated release process and federal judges have ordered the release of 33 sex offender inmates who should’ve been released earlier, but had trouble finding suitable housing under the state’s restrictive laws. That’s likely the better way to go.

* Meanwhile, from the Center Square

Experts Gov. J.B. Pritzker is relying on to help him manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the state sent the governor’s staff emails in March that recommended coronavirus testing in prisons should be an area of focus, but a new survey released by a prison watchdog group found 89 percent of workers said they had not been tested prior to May.

Pritzker has said his management of the COVID-19 pandemic has been based on science and data from medical experts, including epidemiologists. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show about March 21 at least three experts told the Pritzker administration that testing in prisons should be a focus.

Nigel Goldenfeld, a Swanlund Endowed Chair at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with appointments in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Genomic Biology, wrote in an email to Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz and senior counselor Mollie Foust that testing should be focused on nursing homes and congregate living facilities such as group homes and prisons, among other groups. At the time Goldenfeld sent the email, the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity was limited.

The emails encouraged testing to prevent “super-spreaders.” Among that group was “Populations that are necessarily high density and cannot practice social distancing, such as prison population,” the emails said. “These will also be hot spots if … a guard gets infected.”

On March 30, Illinois’ prison system announced the first death of an inmate from COVID-19. As of June 9, IDOC reported thirteen inmates have died from COVID-19. […]

The most recent data from the Illinois Department of Corrections showed 198 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 171 had recovered. The department reported 324 confirmed cases for IDOC inmates. Of those, 251 had recovered.

* It’s getting bad in California

The top medical officer for California’s corrections system has been replaced amid a growing coronavirus outbreak among the state’s inmates. […]

The move comes while more than 2,350 inmates are currently infected — more than half of whom are inside a single facility, San Quentin State Prison.

According to the state’s department of corrections, there are currently more than 1,300 active cases at San Quentin with nearly 70 percent of those cases popping up in the last two weeks. Six prisoners there have died from the virus, according to state data.

Some inmates were transferred to San Quentin after an outbreak at their own prison. Probably a bad idea.

* Related…

* Report: Conviction Registry Rules Cause Racial Disparity

* Jim Dey: Courts still grappling with details in juvenile murder cases

* Prosecutors question credibility of publishing CEO bankrolling Marni Yang exoneration effort

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 44th - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 12:56 pm:

    Which reminds me to check the Illinois sex offender map again Good to know where the creeps live.

  2. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 1:18 pm:

    Child molesters receive very harsh treatment in prison…many times they are punished with death…sometimes worse.

  3. - 1st Ward - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    Keeping someone in prison longer than their sentence seems illegal. Why can’t he be released to his family? It should be incumbent on IDOC to provide areas where he can’t or can live. When a breakdown happens that’s this egregious the pendulum typically swings too far to the other side which is also not good.

  4. - Larry Saunders - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 1:59 pm:

    The survey by the John Howard Association is posted on it’s website. The most interesting reading isn’t the dry statistics which show that despite administration and iDOC claims relatively little testing has been done by IDOC of either staff or inmates inside IL state prisons compared to other states. The good reading are the pages of written comments by IDOC of what’s going on inside IDOC. Overall it shows no unified Covid plan or PPE provided to staff or inmates by IDOC, but every facility pretty much doing its own thing and slacking off on following precautions. Stateville is still infected and now E. Moline is exploding with Covid. I bet serious testing would show widespread infection rates not reported.

  5. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    Glad they are stringent in reviewing housing for released sex offenders. If no housing is available that meets the requirements under the law - better to keep them incarcerated. As there are many studies that point a high recidivism rate for sex offenders

  6. - Cheswick - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    Idea for future reference: the experts should send a copy of the letter to the corrections workers’ union.

  7. - state worker - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    If you read this article, you realize the issue here is not the IDOC. What are they supposed to do? Almost all residential housing in every city and town falls into a restricted zone made by legislators. This affects thousands of people–and 1200 are stuck in IDOC. You want the state to make special housing for all these people? And the next 1200? And the next 1200?

  8. - Mama - Tuesday, Jul 7, 20 @ 6:39 pm:

    Are there no affordable rental houses in the country? They could work on a farm.

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