Illinois Department of Corrections - Changes to Protocols Due to COVID 19

23Dec 2020
Dec 23, 2020

Illinois Department of Corrections – Changes to Protocols Due to COVID 19

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) indicates a rising positivity rate of 12.2% over the previous weeks rate of 10.6% with cases in all counties (IDPH, 2020). Illinois divides the response into regions and reported all 11 regions were in Tier 3 mitigation. This means active resurgence is occurring in the state and the measure are meant to slow the spread. Examples of restrictions include no indoor seating for restaurants, fitness centers may operate at 25% capacity, indoor recreation is closed and outdoor recreation limited to 25% capacity, and working remotely as to the extent possible. Tier 2 and the less restrictive measure are implemented after the region reaches a positivity rating of less than 12%.

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) provides COVID-19 cumulative infection rates information by facility for inmates and employees (IDOC, 2020). All in-person visitation was suspended on March 14, 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19 in the jail system. They have expanded video visits and phone calls opportunities and are encouraging writing to inmates. Inmates are encouraged to take up yoga to help with physical and mental well-being, including the IDOC providing information to inmates.

County Jails

The following counties were selected based on population and/or position in the state.

Macon County jail is a newer facility with an extensive remodel in 2006 (MCSO, 2020). The jail has a capacity of 425 inmates and boasts current technology for safety and visitation. In person visitation was suspended with an undated memo (MCSO COVID, 2020). The largest city is Decatur. The County is located in Region 6 in central eastern Illinois (IDPH, 2020).

St. Clair County is adjacent to the City of St Louis, Missouri as well as Madison County, Illinois. On November 13, 2020, the County revised their operations due to increasing community spread of COVID-19, including closing the court house to the public but they are still providing essential services (SCCB, 2020).

Cook County is the county seat and home to the City of Chicago, which is the third largest city in the United States. The City of Chicago comprises the entirety of Region 11 in the state and Cook County comprises the entirety of Region 10. Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) reopened in-person visitation in June 2020 in an outdoor setting but was resuspended on November 16, 2020 due to increasing cases of COVID-19 in the jails and community (CCDOC, 2020).

Type of FacilityFamily VisitationAttorney VisitationCommissary/Money for ExpensesOther Programs
General InformationHours and Parking for VisitationInmate Property Release
State-Run Correction Facility
  • In person visitation suspended.
  • Video and phone calls opportunities expanded, which expire weekly.
  • Weekly 15-minute video visit per week (started November 9, 2020).
  • Two free phone calls per week started March 20, 2020).
  • Two free messages per week (started August 7, 2020).
  • Video visitation is limited to hours permitted on the website for scheduling, which must occur 7 days prior to the visit. These may be for up to 4 hours under the pay system.
  • All visitors must be on the pre-approved list.
  • Up to 7 in person visits per calendar month with only one occurring on the weekend.
  • Regular population time limit is 2 hours per visit but those on disciplinary action or high risk are limited to 1 hour.
  • Adults must have 2 forms of ID including one with a picture.
  • Not provided
  • May visit in person but are subject to medical screening and temperature checks.
  • Uses JPay, GTL, Money Gram, and Western Union to deposit funds into inmate accounts. These allow for online/ electronic deposits.
  • Money orders can be sent to the JPay mailing address in Flroida.
  • Allowance for free gaming for tablet owners.
  • Vocational programs that can result in a certificate as well as GED/ Education opportunities and non-certified vocational programs. However, no volunteers are permitted in the facilities at this time so these are likely suspended.
Macon County
  • In person visitation has been suspended.
  • Video visitation available at the jail (onsite) or online.
  • Reservations required.
  • No visitation allowed on Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day.
  • Onsite video visitation available daily 8:20am to 1:20pm and 3:20pm to 8:20pm
  • Online video visitation available daily 8:20am to 1:20pm and 3:20pm to 9:20pm
Must be picked up within 30 days of discharge.No specific information provided
  • On-line payments accepted.
St. Clair County
  • Video visitation through off-site application.
  • No specific information provided
No specific information providedNo specific information provided
  • No specific information provided
Cook County/ City of Chicago
  • Visitation resuspended November 16, 2020
  • Phone visitation available
  • Regular visitation has hours depending on which tier an inmate is located. Visitation is Saturday through Wednesday for most facilities.
  • Inmates need to request any funds held by the jail. A friend or family member can also retrieve funds with a written request from the inmate.
  • No specific information provided on retrieving personal items.
  • No specific information provided.
  • Phone visitation available with pre-paid service to specific phone numbers.
  • The commissary has personal hygiene and comfort items as well as food items. The limit is $100 per week of clothing and supplies and $100 per week of food items.
  • Work release, education, and other transition programs provided.

Infection Rates and Death Rates

Illinois uses 12% positivity as its target for reducing from Tier 3 to Tier 2 restrictions (IDPH, 2020). As of November 27, 2020, the 7-day rolling average has been declining but is still above 12% in all parts of the state. The positivity rate exceeded 20% in some regions within the last several weeks with hospital bed availability in critical shortage recently. However, these numbers are improving statewide.

Illinois rates Correctional Facilities as the fourth highest location (e.g. where infection is likely the source) of outbreaks (IDPH, 2020). The state restarted county jail intakes on August 3, 2020 with modified procedures including quickly releasing inmates when they are eligible (IDOC, 2020).

County Jails

Macon County released some inmates early in March 2020 (Reid, 2020). The community positivity rate is 12.1% and declining from a high of 14.6% approximately 4 weeks prior on November 17, 2020 (IDPH, 2020). Macon County itself is slightly higher with a positivity rate of 12.5% and a high of 17.7%.

St. Clair County is adjacent to Madison County as well as St. Louis County, Missouri, all of which have very high community spread of COVID-19. The November 24, 2020 region 4 rate was 13.6% with a high of 16.4% on November 16, 2020 (IDPH, 2020). The region remains in the “red zone” for lack of ICU and medical/surgical beds as well as rising daily increases in the number of people hospitalized. St. Clair County itself is slightly better with a positivity rate of 12.8% on November 24, 2020, one of the lowest county positivity rates compared to other counties in Region 4.

Cook County and the City of Chicago both have positivity ratings trending downward after implementation of renewed strict measures statewide. The City of Chicago has a positivity rate of 12.4% as of November 24, 2020 after a high of almost 16% two weeks prior (Chicago Dashboard, 2020). Cook County has a positivity rating of 13.3% after a high of approximately 15% two weeks prior. Cook County provides jail services for the City of Chicago. Per the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the majority of cases identified in the jail system currently are new intakes and the efforts to test and separate new intakes plus extensive testing has kept numbers in the jail system relatively low (CCSO, 2020).

Type of FacilityInfectionDeath
NumberPositivity RateNumberDeath Rate of Positive Cases
State JailsInmate3,8091Not determinedNot providedNot determined
Employee2,1962Not determinedNot providedNot determined
Macon CountyInmateNot providedNot determinedNot providedNot determined
EmployeeNot providedNot determinedNot providedNot determined
St. Clair CountyInmateNot providedNot determinedNot providedNot determined
EmployeeNot providedNot determinedNot providedNot determined
Cook County/ City of ChicagoInmate912.97%3≥7Not determined
Employee63Not determined≥3Not determined


CCDOC. (2020, November 23). Inmate Search. Retrieved November 27, 2020 from Cook County Sheriff:
CCSO. (2020, November 12). COVID-19 Rise in Community Leads to Case Increase in Cook County Jail. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Cook County Sheriff’s Office:
Chicago Dashboard. (2020, November 24). COVID Dashboard. Retrieved November 27, 2020 from Chicago:
IDOC. (2020, November 20). COVID-19 Response. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from Illinois Department of Corrections:
IDPH. (2020, November 27). COVID-19 Statistics. Retrieved November 27, 2020 from Illinois Department of Public Health:
MCSO. (2020). Corrections. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Macon County Sheriff’s Office:
MCSO COVID. (2020). A Whole of Illinois Approach. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Macon County Sheriff’s Office:
Reid, T. (2020, March 22). Macon County Jail releases some inmates early as precaution against coronavirus. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Herald Review:
SCCB. (2020, November 13). COVID-19 Service Plan. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from St. Claire County Board:

Comments are closed.