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Unasked Questions, Unintended Consequences: Fifteen Findings and Recommendations on Illinois' Prison Healthcare System

NCJ Number
Date Published
28 pages
This document examines the Illinois Department of Corrections' (IDOC's) healthcare system.
The IDOC is an agency of 27 prisons and healthcare system for nearly 50,000 inmates. This is an important fact that has profound and under-examined implications for State and local budgets, public safety, and civic health. In the summer of 2011, The John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) embarked on a project to examine the State of healthcare in the IDOC. Twelve diverse facilities were selected to visit and study which, together, form a representative cross-section of IDOC's healthcare system. The facilities include all of the State's maximum-security facilities (Menard Correctional Center, Stateville Correctional Center, Pontiac Correctional Center, and Dwight Correctional Center); the State's only supermax facility (Tamms Correctional Center); several facilities that serve special populations (Dixon Correctional Center, Illinois special population prison for male inmates, and Sheridan Correctional Center, one of Illinois' drug-treatment prisons); several medium and minimum security facilities (Vienna Correctional Center, Lincoln Correctional Center, and Pinckneyville Correctional Center), and two of the State's Reception and Classification Centers. On monitoring visits to the 12 facilities, JHA staff and trained citizen volunteers inspected physical conditions and interviewed inmates, staff, and administrators. Particular time and attention focused on interviewing prison healthcare staff and administrators, as well as inmates receiving healthcare treatment. With the cooperation of facility and healthcare administrators, objective statistical data regarding staffing, healthcare services, and the incidence of disease among the populations was collected. Additionally, confidential, in-depth interviews were conducted with a cross-section of inmates who communicated with JHA by mail or phone about healthcare problems. The knowledge and information gained from the totality of these methods forms the basis of the healthcare findings and policy recommendations. References