Prison transfers held up, costing county

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing said the Illinois Department of Corrections has refused to accept inmates that have been remanded to them. 

As a result, the Monroe County Jail in Waterloo has taken on both the public health and financial burden of housing extra prisoners due to the state’s decision not to accept them.

“Currently we have spent $35,255 when you figure housing costs for the going rate the United States Marshals have set,” Rohlfing said last week. “We currently have seven inmates waiting to be transferred to IDOC and we have had two inmates that have spent their entire sentence in the Monroe County Jail.”

While Gov. JB Pritzker issued a new executive order last week allowing for transfers into state prisons at the discretion of the IDOC director, an association representing the state’s sheriffs contends this move was more show than substance. The order repeals a prior executive order suspending transfers into IDOC facilities from county jails starting in March.

Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, said the new order’s stipulation that transfers are allowed “within the sole discretion of the IDOC Director” effectively rendered this latest order inconsequential, per a report from Capitol News Illinois.

The governor’s order came prior to a hearing on a lawsuit filed in Logan County against Pritzker and IDOC Director Rob Jefferys on behalf of 89 Illinois sheriffs. Kaitschuk said the sheriffs sought a temporary injunction that would compel the IDOC to accept inmates from county jails. 

He said sheriffs continue to be denied in transfer requests even after Prtizker’s latest executive order.  

Their argument in that case, Kaitschuk said, is that state law mandates IDOC to accept sentenced inmates.

A court hearing on the matter took place Monday, during which Judge Jonathan C. Wright ruled that Pritzker’s order ran afoul of state law.

Attorneys representing the state requested a stay of the ruling while they ready an appeal. Another hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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