• ACV Reports

Four Illinois sheriffs sue to end release of illegal alien felons from IDOC without notification

Four county sheriffs have sued the state of Illinois in federal court seeking to strike down a state law they said puts communities in danger.

The law enforcement officers, as well as state Republican legislative leaders, said the recent Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) policy change means convicted felons who aren't U.S. citizens are being released from prison in communities with no notice to local law enforcement, a practice they said raises public safety concerns.

Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said law enforcement officials were notified Jan. 30 by IDOC they had canceled pickups of illegals after their release from prisons. Downey said they had to go to federal authorities at Immigration and Customs Enforcement for information about the policy change.

Downey said Kankakee contracted with ICE in 2018 to facilitate the transfer of convicted felon non-citizens being released from Illinois prisons to ICE custody.

“In just 2019, the Kankakee County Sheriff's office assisted in 223 safe and secure transfers of felons who had been convicted of committing the following crimes in an Illinois community, and these were not mild transgressions,” he said.

He list included murder, predatory criminal sexual assault and other violent crimes.

Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress said he was dumbfounded by the policy, which he said gives those being released from prison a head start to allude federal immigration authorities.

Kankakee County (Ill.) Sheriff Mike Downey leads the fight by four sheriffs and several legislators to end the IDOC policy of releasing illegals from prison without notifying law enforcement in the state. (Photo: Kankakee Daily Journal)

“We have the state of Illinois aiding and abetting a felon fleeing law enforcement,” Childress said. “This policy is not acceptable and it creates substantial safety risks for our community, our families and our fellow law enforcement officers.”

Downey urged Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reverse the policy.

“What is it going to take?” Downey asked. “I think that’s a question we all have to ask. Is it going to take a kid under 13 getting sexually assaulted? Is that what’s it is going to take? Is it going to take somebody getting killed? Is that what it is going to take? I don’t know, that’s a question the governor is going to have to answer.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office didn't immediately reply to emails from ACV Reports seeking comment.

“Under the Illinois TRUST Act, the Illinois Department of Corrections is prohibited from detaining an individual solely on the basis of an immigration detainer or non-judicial immigration warrant," said IDOC spokesperson Lindsey Hess. "All incarcerated individuals are released at the expiration of their sentence. We continue to work with the Governor’s Office to review our policies and procedures to ensure the safety of Illinois residents and compliance with state law.”

Republican lawmakers joined the sheriffs in calling for a swift reversal of the policy. State Sen. Jason Barickman demanded a Senate committee look into the issue.

Senate President Don Harmon’s office said he "would certainly give it the appropriate review."

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