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Government

COVID-19: IL Lawmaker Concerned about Prison Workers & Inmates

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Screenshot of the entrance to the Henry C. Hill Correctional Center, Galesburg, IL

Employees and inmates at Illinois prisons may not have the resources and policies they need to remain healthy.

That's according to Woodhull Republican, Dan Swanson.

Herb Trix reports.

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IL State Rep. Dan Swanson (file)

Representative Swanson says he's heard complaints from prison guards and relatives of prisoners at the Henry Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg and the Life Skills Re-entry Center in Kewanee.

They told him they don't have the supplies needed to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other infections. 

And officials from the Henry and Knox county health departments share his concerns. 

Swanson says no one from the Illinois Department of Corrections has returned his calls. But he says the agency is aware of the complaints he has received. 

WVIK News requested an interview with an Illinois corrections official. The department declined but responded with a lengthy email message, that lists the department's responses to COVID-19.

It says, "We are taking vigorous steps to protect our staff and men and women in custody from this disease, including thoroughly reviewing those who are eligible for early release, appropriately quarantining or isolating men and women in custody, and equipping staff with personal protective equipment." 

"The Department has taken a number of steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, but not limited to:

  • On March 20, all correctional facilities statewide were placed on Administrative Quarantine with restricted movement.
  • On March 14, the Department suspended visitation at all correctional facilities.
  • Facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being placed on lockdown with only emergency medical movement.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being provided to all staff statewide.
  • We are working with the Governor’s Office and Prisoner Review Board to thoroughly review individuals who are eligible for early release.
  • The Department modified its Pandemic Influenza and Continuity of Operations plans.
  • Hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and cleaning supplies are being made available to all staff and incarcerated individuals. We are closely monitoring our supply levels at each facility and are in close communication with our vendors to maintain adequate inventory.
  • All staff are being screened and having their temperature checked upon arrival to their correctional facility.
  • All interagency transports have been suspended with the exception of medical and mental health appointments, and emergency transfers.
  • Per Governor Pritzker’s executive order, all county jail intakes have been suspended.
  • All correctional facilities and transport vehicles are being routinely cleaned and disinfected.
  • Staff and incarcerated individuals are being encouraged to practice good health habits, including hand-washing.
  • We are communicating regularly with staff and people in custody to ensure they feel safe."
Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor which really just means she wears many hats, doing everything there is to do in the newsroom and around the radio station. She's a multimedia journalist and serves as Assignment Editor, reporter, radio news producer, copy editor, announcer, news anchor/host, and photographer. She also writes and produces content for WVIK.org and social media and trains interns.
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