Original submission by author

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., residents of the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility—a facility for people sentenced under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (725 ILCS 207) — were buzzing with hopes of going home or the terror of possibly dying. As it is, once probable cause is found, a life sentence generally ensues. Unless you get lucky, and a judge lets you out, or the attorney general drops the petition, you’re stuck. 

As the news reported the beyond believable deaths, residents became more scared than hopeful. Our visits were cancelled, along with our therapy groups and writs to leave the facility. The guards — here called Security Therapist Aides or STA’s for short — are required to wear masks and face shields at all times. Residents are provided with one disposable mask to wear when we leave our units. Ultimately, it is optional for residents to wear a mask at this point. 

The segregation unit was split into the punishment side and quarantine side for those newly admitted to the facility. Although, according to some staff, there have been no residents to contract COVID. However, there have been several staff reported to have COVID. They either have not showed up for work, or have been turned around at the door for exhibiting signs of COVID-19.

On July 6, 2020, the facility started to reopen, and therapy groups started again. Visits are still out of the question and no “free” calls are allowed for residents to check in with their loved ones. 

All in all, and with much surprise, as of July 24, 2020, out of nearly 600 residents and about 200 staff, no resident has contracted COVID-19. 

Sincerely,
Benjamin Harbaugh

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Benjamin Harbaugh

Benjamin Harbaugh is a writer incarcerated in Illinois.