Pritzker signs executive order allowing prisoner furloughs

Pritzker’s executive order gives the Illinois Department of Corrections permission to allow “medically vulnerable” inmates out of prison temporarily.

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Under an executive order signed Monday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois inmates who meet the medical criteria may be granted furloughs to minimize the spread of coronavirus in state prisons.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois inmates who meet the medical criteria may be granted furloughs to minimize the spread of coronavirus in state prisons, under an executive order signed Monday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker’s executive order gives the Illinois Department of Corrections permission to allow “medically vulnerable” inmates out of prison temporarily for as long as the governor’s disaster proclamation is in effect.

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 who were 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.

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