top of page

State Delays Mental Health Treatment for Inmates

In January, the Illinois Legislature passed an amendment to the state's laws concerning inmates declared unfit for trial. Governor Pritzker signed HB 240 into law, which allows the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) to extend the time inmates spend in county jails beyond the previous 20-day limit. The bill extended this period to 60 days, with the possibility of DHS renewing the hold every 30 days, potentially resulting in extended stays for these inmates.

This move came after a legal battle initiated by Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell and State's Attorney Dan Wright in June 2022. They filed a lawsuit against the Governor and DHS, citing violations of the previous statute requiring timely inmate transfers. Despite winning several hearings, the subsequent legislative response was to amend the law rather than address the delays.

"These inmates need mental health treatment that seriously taxes Sheriffs’ resources,” Sheriff Campbell, several other Sheriffs, and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association warned. The sponsors of the bill touted that the bill would open up more beds for mentally unfit inmates. "Almost immediately, the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office noticed a pattern of inmates now being consistently held beyond the 60-day requirement, as I expected,” Sheriff Campbell said.

Since the beginning of 2023, Sangamon County alone has seen 26 inmates held beyond the 60-day requirement, accumulating a total of 1,302 extra days in custody. Sheriff Campbell urges the Governor and DHS to prioritize the timely transfer of mentally unfit inmates to the treatment facilities they need and the state is mandated to provide.

"These inmates require extraordinary help. I’m baffled as to why the Legislature and the Governor would put these inmates at risk of further deterioration,” Campbell said. "They pose a risk to our staff, other inmates, and themselves. I’m pleading with the Governor and the Department of Human Services to get these inmates to the treatment facilities that they need and the State is required to provide.”


bottom of page