Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Sheriffs are attempting to transfer as many inmates as possible into prisons after county judge’s order
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Sheriffs are attempting to transfer as many inmates as possible into prisons after county judge’s order

Thursday, Aug 6, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* News-Gazette

Illinois’ county sheriffs got a big win Monday in their ongoing battle with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and they wasted little time in taking advantage of it.

A Logan County judge found that the governor has no authority to bar transfers of sentenced inmates or those on holds for parole violations from local jails to state prisons. The judge’s decision prompted Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman, among others throughout the state, to take immediate advantage of the order.

“We took 20” to the Department of Corrections’ intake facility at Stateville on Tuesday, Chief Deputy Shannon Barrett said. Another 35 inmates are awaiting transfer, and Barrett said “we’ll get them there as soon as possible.”

“There’s a whole line of (county jail vans containing inmates) there today,” Barrett said.

* Pantagraph

“Space issues” are continuing at the McLean County jail after the Illinois Department of Corrections turned away at the prison gates 33 inmates scheduled for transfer, Sheriff Jon Sandage said Tuesday. […]

Vans filled with 36 inmates left Bloomington at 5 a.m. Tuesday for Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, but IDOC officials said they could take no more than three.

“We were hoping to get rid of 36, but we only got rid of three,” Sandage told the McLean County Justice Committee Tuesday evening. “They said they ran out of space.”

Judge Jonathan Wright ruled in Logan County Monday that the IDOC must accept inmates within 14 days of a transfer. The sheriff’s association estimated about 2,000 inmates are awaiting transfer to state facilities, including about 44 in McLean County.


“Our first van left Bloomington at 5 a.m.,” said Sandage. But counties from across the state also were bringing their prisoners. So, by 2 p.m. when McLean County’s five vans reached the gate, the prison staff said it already was full.

Yeah, maybe they need a better system in place. Or the sheriffs could call ahead before just hitting the road.

…Adding… The county where the judge lives

The Logan County Sheriff’s Office attempted to transfer seven inmates to the state-run Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro on Wednesday night, but when the transport vehicle arrived at the state prison, two of the seven inmates tested positive for Covid-19.

The Department of Corrections would not accept the inmates who tested positive, which sparked a short standoff between the state and local agencies. The Logan County transport vehicle insisted the inmates be transferred, and refused to leave the parking lot for a period of about two hours after their tests came back positive, two sources said.

A sergeant at the Logan County jail initially declined to comment on the incident when reached by phone on Wednesday night. Moments later, the vehicle left the state prison parking lot and returned to the county jail in Lincoln with all seven inmates still in their custody.


News reports in Illinois indicate that a number of county sheriffs have begun the process of transferring prisoners held in county jails to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). These transfers had been blocked by an order from Governor Pritzker as part of the State’s strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 in state correctional facilities. After a group of county sheriffs challenged the order, a Logan County Judge ruled against the Governor’s order, and sheriffs quickly began the transfer process before the ruling could be appealed.

The following statement can be attributed to Camille Bennett, Director of the Corrections Reform Project, ACLU of Illinois:

    “It is regrettable that some sheriffs appear anxious to resume transfers to IDOC even before the legal process has played out. Elected officials should be mindful of health risks to those being transferred as well as those inside IDOC facilities, including staff and their families.

    We know that prisons and jails have been vectors for spread of the coronavirus and moving people in and out – including sheriffs’ personnel managing the transfers – only increases spread of the virus.

    The State deserves an opportunity to appeal this ruling before the risk of spread is magnified. Unnecessarily subjecting detainees, staff, and communities to a potentially lethal virus without appropriate public health precautions is needlessly cruel.”


  1. - The Real Captain - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    Reception and classification can only hold so many people in the best of circumstances. The Sheriffs know this and should be following the same procedures for scheduling drop offs as they did prior to COVID.

  2. - Cassandra - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 11:52 am:

    “Get rid of”? These are human beings.

  3. - Frumpy White Guy - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 11:59 am:

    With the Covid 19 threat only the extremely violent should be incarcerated.

  4. - Actual Red - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 12:07 pm:

    The utter disregard for human life here. Demanding to throw two people, who are known to have a deadly and contagious illness, into a situation where social distancing and hygiene is impossible.

  5. - DownSouth - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    Call me crazy but shouldn’t the counties be testing the transfers prior to leaving the facility with them? Now, the driver of the transport that was turned away is a close contact and exposed, as are any other inmates that were in the van. I do understand that many of the counties are fighting staff shortages and low budgets, but c’mon we can do better than this fiasco.

  6. - WLDS News - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen said that they transported out 5 inmates this week to IDOC. Many of them had been housed for over 4 months.

    The Greene County Jail is now under capacity for the first time since March. It has an operating capacity of approximately 20. They had about 25 inmates at one point. Greene accepts prisoners from Scott & Calhoun counties because those counties do not have jails.

    We are unsure if Morgan County has had any prisoner transfers yet. Jacksonville is home to a correctional facility but has refused transfer of inmates into the medium security facility since the governor’s order.

    We believe that both Morgan, Scott, Greene, and Pike sheriffs were named as part of ISA’s lawsuit in Logan County.

  7. - DOC Guard - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 12:44 pm:

    They also aren’t wearing masks or PPE when they arrive. Counties are doing no social distancing. I saw logan county with my own eyes at Hillsboro last night. No PPE, no social distancing, let inmates walk around the bus mixed with covid positive inmates. Warden even offered them PPE from DOC which they declined. Same crap happening today.

  8. - Cadillac - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 12:46 pm:

    === into a situation where social distancing and hygiene is impossible. ===

    You ever been to a county jail?

  9. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 1:57 pm:

    I pay Cook Country property taxes partially to fund my jail so that it among other things can handle Covid-19. And Cook County jail has been called out by federal authorities on how to handle it once it’s in your system and how to then keep it out.

    Why can’t other counties do that? They, presumably, also have taxpayers they could ask.

  10. - Larry Saunders - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    Here is the thing. IL has no money and it’s state prisons are falling apart. Yet the counties show no recognition of the fact that we can’t just keep arresting and convicting everyone as we have done for decades. State prisons are full and are almost death camps in terms of lethality. Unless they have to deal with the problem they are creating, IL counties have no incentive to review their criminal justice actions. Restriction transfers is the only way to do this.

  11. - Buford - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 4:42 pm:

    Holding county inmates past the time when they should be released or transferred is used as a policy of political retaliation in rural Klan counties like Whiteside. The grandson of Whiteside county board member Bill McGinn was held past statutory limits as a punishment for being an independent voice on the board vs. chairman James Duffy.

    “Democrat” State’s Attorney Terry Costello is aware of the situation with county jail inmates and does nothing, he used to be a “Republican” before Duffy appointed him acting State’s Attorney when (now judge) Trish Joyce resigned. This all has to do with local corruption.

  12. - Just Another Anon - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 6:16 pm:

    If the state won’t take the inmates that are supposed to be in the care of the state, then the State should refund the Counties the cost of (1) inmate upkeep, (2) inmate medical care, and (3) any staffing increase needed to handle the increased jail population. This situation is the State passing the buck on cost and liability to the Counties, just like every other unfunded mandate.

    I see commentators here saying that Cook County is some sort of model for handling the COVID-19, but why not look to jails that haven’t been sued (rightly or wrongly) by the ACLU and which weren’t (for a time) the largest active cluster of COVID activity. Some excellent suburban and downstate jails as opposed to the trash heap that is Cook County.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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