Cook County, Illinois Chief Criminal Judge LeRoy K. Martin tossed the convictions of 15 criminal defendants on November 16, 2017 because the cases were linked to disgraced former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. All of the men whose cases were overturned claimed that they had been framed by Watts, who went to federal prison in…

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By Prison Legal News

On April 24, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a former pretrial detainee at the Edgar County Jail (ECJ) in Illinois stated a claim concerning unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the facility. The appellate court also affirmed the dismissal of a claim alleging deliberate indifference to the detainee’s medical needs.

Over a period of two-and-a-half years, Richard D. Budd served three stints at ECJ as a pretrial detainee. He initially spent 45 days at the jail following a 2009 arrest. During that time he was confined with eight other detainees in an area of the facility intended for three; he had to sleep on the floor alongside broken windows and damaged toilets.

After another arrest two years later, Budd was placed in a section of the ECJ where overcrowded conditions again forced him and other prisoners to sleep on the floor amid water from a shower leak. The cells had broken windows, exposed wiring, extensive rust, sinks without running water, toilets covered in mold and spider webs, and a broken heating system. ECJ staff did not provide prisoners with cleaning supplies.

Four months later, Budd was again arrested and had to sleep on the floor in an ECJ cellblock. The cell’s vents were blocked, the heating and air conditioning systems did not work, and detainees were denied recreation. While living in these conditions, something scratched or bit Budd’s leg, resulting in an infection and swelling. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment after contacting the Sheriff.

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By Joseph Dole 

Many are aware of the dire fiscal state that Illinois currently finds itself in. One of the main causes of this has been years of passing laws without any consideration of the financial burdens of their enactment, and one of the most egregious examples concerns Illinois’ Truth-in-Sentencing law.

Truth-in-Sentencing in Illinois requires that nearly all violent offenders serve 85 to 100 percent of their criminal sentences.  Prior to the current Truth-in-Sentencing law’s 1998 enactment, offenders served, on average, 44 percent of their sentences.  For more than a decade Illinois resisted enacting a Truth-in-Sentencing law when other states rushed to do so.  Instead, Illinois increased sentencing ranges for violent crimes.  The State didn’t pass its Truth-in-Sentencing law until after the federal government monetarily incentivized Truth-in-Sentencing legislation.  Although this legislation was enacted in Illinois over a decade-and-a-half ago, not a single comprehensive cost/benefit analysis has been undertaken to determine what monetary effect enactment has had on the State.

Other states that enacted Truth-in-Sentencing legislation adjusted for it by reducing sentences so the average imposed sentence was about half of what it was before enactment.  That way prisoners ended up serving around the same amount of time in prison and didn’t cost the state additional money.  Illinois, on the other hand, failed to make such an adjustment.  Instead, Illinois judges actually increased average sentences imposed or continued issuing similar criminal sentences, which resulted in longer terms of incarceration due to the newly mandated Truth-in-Sentencing good conduct time provisions.  With the sentencing ranges having already been increased, Illinois taxpayers have continued to be hit twice as hard: once for the existing sentencing scheme and effectively again due to the Truth-in-Sentencing legislation.

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