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WBEZ report finds inadequate housing options for prisoners with disabilities in Illinois

John Ellis of Belleville is profiled in WBEZ's report on  inadequate housing options for prisoners with disabilities in Illinois.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
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John Ellis of Belleville is profiled in WBEZ's report on inadequate housing options for prisoners with disabilities in Illinois.

A report by Chicago public radio station WBEZ recently revealed how the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) keeps prisoners with disabilities in prison beyond their release date.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with WBEZ criminal justice reporter Shannon Heffernan about how the state of Illinois regularly keeps prisoners with disabilities because of inadequate options for housing.

Heffernan explained that when a person is released from prison, they are required to find stable housing. But, she said her investigation found that many housing facilities listed by the Illinois Department of Corrections “won’t take” people with psychiatric and physical disabilities.

“IDOC has a section that’s specifically in charge of finding people housing who can’t find it. But Illinois has not answered any of our questions about how [IDOC] operates, how they decide who can get funding to stay at a halfway house, or how they choose contracts and find places where people can stay,” Heffernan said.

She explained that there are no official numbers known for how many disabled prisoners are kept in prison past their release date due to IDOC’s “not tracking this problem or paying attention.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer, Evie Hemphill andLara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.

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