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McLean County sheriff joins lawsuit against Pritzker and DHS over inmate transfers

McLean County Jail
Eric Stock
McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage is among six Illinois sheriffs suing Gov. JB Pritzker and the state over the delayed transfer of inmates ruled unfit to stand trial.

McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage has joined a lawsuit against the Pritzker administration over the delayed transfer of inmates into the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

Sandage and five other Illinois county sheriffs are suing Gov. JB Pritzker and IDHS secretary Grace Hou for an executive order that the sheriffs contend violates state law. The sheriffs say DHS must accept into its custody inmates deemed unfit to stand trial within 20 days, when they are transferred to a state-run psychiatric facility.

The Pritzker administration has used a COVID-related executive order to delay the transfers.

Sandage said McLean County is holding eight DHS inmates. Some have been awaiting transfer for up to five months. He said the additional inmate housing has cost the county $51,000.

Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell filed the lawsuit in June. Sandage and four other Illinois sheriffs (Jack Clague, Knox County; John Lakin, Madison County; Gerald Bustos, Rock Island County; and Jim Root, Macon County) joined in the lawsuit on Thursday.

The sheriffs want Pritzker to rescind the executive order and reimburse counties for the costs to house the inmates.

Last month, a judge found IDHS and Hou guilty of indirect civil contempt for delaying a Sangamon County inmate's transfer. Circuit judge Adam Giganti ruled the agency's delay "impaired the rights and interests of the defendant and further impeded and obstructed the court in its administration of justice."

According to court documents, the inmate was transferred to an IDHS facility for restorative treatment the next day,

The agency responded in a statement: "At IDHS, we continue to work diligently and in good faith to admit patients in need of care in state psychiatric hospitals. We are working in partnership with many county officials in a constructive and collaborative way."

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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