Sheriffs aim to halt state’s ‘cruel’ treatment of mentally ill inmates

Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 12:09 AM CDT
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(Heart of Illinois ABC) - After scoring a temporary victory in their legal battle with the governor, sheriffs and others suing the state are waiting to see what comes next over what they’re calling a “mental health crisis” in county jails.

Six sheriffs, including Jon Sandage from McLean County and David Clague from Knox County, filed a lawsuit claiming the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) too often leaves inmates with serious mental health problems in local jails where they can’t get the help they need.

A Sangamon County judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order making invalid Gov. JB Pritzker’s pandemic-related executive orders delaying the transfer of mentally ill inmates to state facilities.

“Defendants are found unfit, and then they have 30, 60, 90 days, in some cases 200 days before they are ultimately sent to IDHS,” said Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin. He supports the sheriffs’ lawsuit.

“It’s cruel,” said Karlin.

“It’s cruel for them to languish in jail, untreated. Without that treatment, their situation, their condition gets even worse,” Karlin also said.

Also participating the lawsuit are Sangamon County State’s Attorney Jack Campbell, Madison County Sheriff John Lakin, Rock Island County Sheriff Gerald Bustos, and Macon County Sheriff Jim Root.

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