The Illinois Department of Corrections has been held in contempt of federal court for allegedly ignoring repeated court orders and failure to take appropriate steps to improve health care in the state’s prison system.
Federal Judge Jorge Alonso issued the order in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois after repeated failures by IDOC since 2018 to develop a specific, detailed plan needed to implement and remedy problems in the prison health care system that court experts identified multiple times.
Prisoners first sued IDOC in 2010, alleging systemic problems in health care, problems that lead to serious disease, harm and even death for people under the care of IDOC. The lawsuit, brought by named prisoners represented by the ACLU of Illinois, Dentons, and Uptown People’s Law Center resulted in an agreement with the State of Illinois in 2018 and approved by the court in May of 2019. The agreement required IDOC to develop a comprehensive plan to improve medical care. The contempt order says that IDOC has failed to create that plan and get it implemented.
A court monitor report issued on June 22nd noted IDOC’s care of the elderly was so poor that it constituted elder abuse under Illinois law. The monitor report also noted failures to stipulations for mental health care treatment for prisoners.
IDOC claimed in a press release to Capitol Fax that they are working to improve healthcare services with an outside expert and will be filing a procedural disagreement with the court. IDOC says that it will finalize the implementation of a healthcare plan later this year.