COVID-19: First death in IL state prison, 100 reported infected at Cook County Jail

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, March 30, 2020

Chicago, IL — In response to the news of the first death due to the coronavirus pandemic at the Stateville Correctional Center and over 100 people reported infected at the Cook County Jail, Bárbara Suárez Galeano, Organizing Director of Detention Watch Network offered the following statement.

Bárbara Suárez Galeano, Organizing Director, Detention Watch Network:

“Immigrant rights advocates, criminal justice reform advocates, and doctors have been consistent in our demand for weeks: release people now from detention centers, jails, and prisons. Detention Watch Network has laid out the overwhelming evidence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) fatally flawed medical care and how the agency has proven time and time again to be incapable of caring for people in its care. Now, we are seeing COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country in our system of mass incarceration where social distancing is impossible and even the most basic measures of sanitization are lacking, if not ignored. The government can and should release people now — our collective public health depends on it. People incarcerated are in grave danger and everyone that has the discretion to release people — the administration, local elected officials, ICE and other government agencies — will be complicit in the loss of life.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.