Unasked Questions, Unintended Consequences: Fifteen Findings and Recommendations on Illinois' Prison Healthcare System

In “Unasked Questions, Unintended Consequences,” the John Howard Association, Illinois’ only non-partisan prison watchdog, offers 15 findings and recommendations on how Illinois can improve its prison healthcare system.

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This special report is based on JHA’s analysis of healthcare in 12 diverse correctional facilities, which together embody the state of healthcare in the Illinois prison system. Our findings include the following:

  • There is insufficient external oversight of prison healthcare services, especially services provided by the private vendor, Wexford Health Sources, who in 2011 negotiated a 10-year contract to provide healthcare services to all 27 IDOC facilities at the cost of $1.36 billion to the state.

  • JHA found deficient staffing levels that can lead to staff burn out and prevent inmates from timely accessing medical care.

  • JHA found that while elderly inmates represent the fasting growing segment of prisoners, it is unclear how Illinois will pay for the housing, treatment, and medical care of this population.

  • The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) is in the process of implementing opt-out HIV testing at reception and classification centers and is piloting an electronic medical records program that promises to enhance data-sharing between facilities and improve quality of care.

JHA's work on healthcare in IDOC is made possible through a generous grant by the Michael Reese Health Trust.

Allie Kelly2012