Illinois police say Gov. Pritzker is releasing violent criminals to thwart COVID-19 spread in prisons

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Police departments from all over the state of Illinois have sent a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker questioning why the governor has reduced the sentences of violent criminals and convicted murderers.

In a letter sent on Friday, the Illinois Coalition for Public Safety (COPS), said, “Our job is is very difficult and dangerous under ‘normal’ circumstances. The level of risk has been increased exponentially as a result of the current pandemic. Unfortunately, officers now also fear that violent convicted felons are being released back into the communities we have sworn to protect and serve.”

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois prisons, Pritzker has granted clemency to more than 1,000 prisoners, including Brian Harringon, who was convicted of killing a man in Rockford when he was 14, in 2007.

The Chicago Sun Times says seven or more convicted murderers have received reduced sentences.

Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) said, “The governor did this quietly, and I felt that since he decided to victimize the victim’s families again, that the least I could try to do was make sure that they knew that that murderer was out.”

Cabello released the names of 13 recently released prisoners last week.

As of April 20th, there are 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and 135 staff. Six prisoners have died from the disease.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana said there is no evidence that people are safer from the virus outside of a jail cell.

He says the Winnebago County Jail has reduced its population by about 300 in recent weeks, and thinks that inmates are more than capable of following social distancing guidelines.

“The notion that the jails and prisons are not safe, well, I beg to differ,” Caruana said Tuesday. “We’re doing everything we can to keep it clean. We clean morning, noon, and night. We had a company here that did sterilization of everything.”

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