Governor J.B. Pritzker lost a court battle in Logan County today over prisoner transfers into the Illinois Department of Corrections. Several counties in the state, including Morgan, Greene, Schuyler, and Pike, have recently seen their county jail numbers go up due to prisoners awaiting transfer into the prison system after convictions and pleas in local court.
According to the Illinois Center Square, Judge Jonathan C. Wright ruled this morning that Pritzker’s order that temporarily halted county jails from moving prisoners to state-run facilities was against state law. The Illinois Department of Corrections must accept an inmate within 14 days of a transfer, but Pritzker’s order struck that language for the duration of his emergency orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim Kaitschuck of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, whose organization brought the lawsuit against the Pritzker Adminstration in May told the Center Square that the governor nor IDOC has independent discretion to determine what inmates they’re going to take or if they’re not going to take any at all. Kaitschuck estimates that about 2,000 prisoners around the state are awaiting transfers. The county jails are also seeking compensation from the state for the stays of the prisoners.
Pritzker Administration attorneys are asking a stay on the order while they ready an appeal. Another hearing on the lawsuit is set for Friday in Logan County Court.