Report: Prisoners 1.7 Times More Likely To Catch COVID Than Rest of IL Population

By Benjamin Cox on September 25, 2020 at 4:57pm

A screenshot of the prisoner infection rate by date (Courtesy The Marshall Project)

A nonprofit criminal justice journalism initiative says Illinois has the 17th lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in its prison system compared to other states. The Marshall Project has been tabulating COVID-19 outbreaks in the prison systems of all 50 states. The project has been using a per capita rate of 10,000 inmates to track positivity rates. Arkansas, Tennessee, Kansas, and Idaho are the states with the highest prison positivity rates in the nation.

WICS reports that prior to the week of August 4th, the Marshall Project’s data shows a minimal infection rate in Illinois prisons. On August 3rd, Logan County Judge Jonathan Wright issued a temporary injunction requiring the state to accept transfers at IDOC facilities in a ruling in favor of a lawsuit brought by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association against executive orders by Governor J.B. Pritzker. On August 21st, Illinois’ 4th District Appellate Court reversed Wright’s order by issuing its own temporary injunction. Transfers were halted following the appellate court’s decision as counties now administer COVID-19 tests 72-hours prior to transfer.

Since the August 4th date, COVID-19 cases rose exponentially in Illinois’ prisons. Up until August 12th, the Jacksonville Correctional Facility had a minimal number of cases; but by August 12th, a large outbreak occurred and reported cases at the facility has continued since, with 1 death occurring last Friday. Currently, the state prison population positivity rate is currently higher than the statewide positivity rate with a 518 cases per 10,000 prisoners. The state’s per capita rate is approximately 303 cases per 10,000.