Cook County sher­iff resumes trans­fer of in­mates to state prisons

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - rhin­ton@sun­times.com | @rrhin­ton BY RACHEL HIN­TON, STAFF RE­PORTER

Cook County Sher­iff Tom Dart has trans­ferred 70 de­tainees who have been con­victed of crimes to state cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties to be­gin serv­ing their sen­tences — and is plan­ning to send hun­dreds more — after a down­state judge ruled that Gov. J.B. Pritzker can’t bar such trans­fers be­cause of coro­n­avirus con­cerns.

The sher­iff be­gan trans­fer­ring peo­ple this week, with 70 in state cus­tody as of Thurs­day af­ter­noon, and an­other 481 still to be trans­ferred, said Kathy Car­mody, a spokes­woman for the of­fice.

On Mon­day, Lo­gan County Cir­cuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Wright is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion re­quir­ing the state to ac­cept trans­fers from lo­cal sher­iff ’s of­fices to the Illi­nois Department of Correction­s.

Wright wrote that Pritzker doesn’t have “the author­ity to sus­pend the sub­stan­tive pro­vi­sions of the Illi­nois Uni­fied Code or Correction­s.”

The Illi­nois Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion sued the gover­nor and the Illi­nois Correction­s Department in May over Pritzker’s March 26 or­der that sus­pended all ad­mis­sions to state prisons to pre­vent the spread of COVID-19 from lo­cal to state fa­cil­i­ties.

As a re­sult of the state Correction­s Department’s “re­fusal to ac­cept trans­fer of of­fend­ers caused by the gover­nor’s stay-at-home orders, the plain­tiffs have suf­fered ir­repara­ble harm in the form of near­ing or ex­ceed­ing ca­pac­ity to house of­fend­ers and the in­creased risk of hous­ing of­fend­ers at an el­e­vated level when con­sid­ered in con­text of the COVID-19 pan­demic,” the judge wrote.

Dart, along with other mem­bers of the Illi­nois Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion, filed a mo­tion ear­lier this sum­mer in Lo­gan County, ask­ing Wright to ap­prove the in­junc­tion that would force the state to be­gin ac­cept­ing county jail de­tainees who have been tried and sen­tenced. Some have al­ready served their sen­tences, but need to be trans­ferred to the state’s cus­tody be­fore their re­lease.

Ar­gu­ments in the case re­sume Fri­day.

SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

Cook County Jail

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