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COVID-19 Lawsuit Settlement Leads to Release of 1,000 IL Prisoners

After a settlement was reached in a federal lawsuit on March 23, 2021, approximately 1,000 prison inmates in Illinois could soon be released. Prisoners who are deemed low- to medium-risk and within nine months of their release date are now eligible for specific good-time credits toward release. 

In April 2020, a lawsuit was filed by a group of Chicago civil rights lawyers and community leaders, alleging that state and federal institutions pose a significant risk of spreading the coronavirus to other inmates, staff, hospitals, and communities – and that Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) failed to take immediate action in identifying vulnerable inmates.  

Initially, the suit sought the release of up to 13,000 prisoners who are at risk of COVID-19. However, U.S. District Judge Robert Dow denied emergency relief last year because Gov. Pritzker and other stakeholders had taken steps to contain the outbreak in a constitutional manner, even though the result was not what the plaintiffs were seeking. 

As of the end of March, nearly 11,000 Illinois prisoners and over 4,000 correctional staff had tested positive for the coronavirus. Since the start of the pandemic, 87 inmates and one staff member have died. 

After the IDOC began universal testing and offered voluntary vaccinations among inmates and staff, the death rate has significantly declined. But in states all over the country, a substantial number of correctional officers have refused to be vaccinated. 

If you have a loved one who is currently locked up in an Illinois prison and is at risk of COVID-19, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638 for a free initial consultation and let us determine the available legal options for release.