July 9th, 2024Illinois office of the MacArthur Justice Center; Northwestern Pritzker School of LawIllinois

Alexa Van Brunt

Participant NameParticipant InitialsDescription (Role/Job)
Alexa Van BruntABIllinois office of the MacArthur Justice Center; Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Eireann O'GradyEOVolunteer Interviewer

EO 00:03

Hello, my name is Eireann. I'm a 3L at UCLA and I am a volunteer for the oral history project of COVID bars. Before we have any of our conversation, I'm going to read this chunk [of text], so I don't miss anything. I want to start by explaining how we plan to use the conversation we are about to have. Our conversation is not legally privileged, and we will not keep what you say confidential. We plan to make transcripts and recordings of our interviews available for use by future researchers and the general public and portions may be posted online are discussed in posts on our website or other published writing. I want our conversation to flow freely. And I realize that you may discuss a sensitive topic or mention a piece of information that you later realize you would like without, if you request it now at the end of the interview or later on after further reflection, we are happy for you to review the transcript of our conversation before it is made public and redact any portions you deem necessary from the transcript and the recording a word. Um, so yeah, like I said, I'm Eireann, I've been working on the project in a couple of different ways I worked on like the data side of the project. And now I'm doing oral history. We're just kind of trying to gather an account of people that worked with incarcerated people during the pandemic to kind of create a resource for the future as well as just like a snapshot of history. So with that, would you please introduce yourself?

AB 01:28

Sure. My name is Alexa Van Brunt. I'm the Director of the Illinois office of the MacArthur Justice Center. I also teach the civil rights litigation clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

EO 01:38

Great. I'm sorry, what was the clinic name?

AB 01:42

It's the civil rights litigation clinic, I'm the director at Northwestern Law School.

EO 01:49

Great, so what was your work like at the beginning of the pandemic? And did it change at all, during the pandemic?

AB 01:56

Just generally, or specifically relating to the COVID litigation?

EO 02:01

Um, just generally, just kind of if your work changed at all, because of the pandemic or just what work was like with incarcerated people?

AB 02:08

Yeah, so generally speaking, I'd say it was an incredibly busy time for me and for a lot of people in my organization. My co-counsel and I, we brought a lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff right at the beginning of lockdown, early April 2020, stemming from the Sheriff’s failure to protect people in custody from the spread of the disease. As a result of that we were basically working 24/7; I was litigating the case with my co-counsel at Loevy and Loevy, and Civil Rights Corps. And so while I do think it's true that a lot of things slowed down in the legal world during that time, as courts shut down, classes were stopped at the law school for a while, and everything went remote, for us, it was it was really a fire drill, and we were working all the time to litigate a preliminary injunction motion, and then to try to enforce that motion throughout the rest of the pandemic.

EO 03:15

Okay, so just a few questions. You said it was the sheriff. Does that mean it was-- you were doing jails? Or was it prisons as well?

AB 03:22

Yeah we filed our lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff. And so it was just the Cook County Jail, which is one of the largest jails in the country. And at one point it was really the epicenter of the spread of COVID in the country, based on a New York Times article from April 2020. There's a huge spread in that jail. And it was having immense ramifications not only on the people's health in the jail, but in the surrounding community. Because there's no separation between the community and jail when it comes to viruses because people go in and out, visitors go in and out, correctional officers go in and out. So it was a huge concern that there were such high levels of COVID and that people were getting sick and dying in the jail.

EO 04:11

Okay, and then that lawsuit, what were you all asking for, specifically?

AB 04:16

We were asking for several things; We filed the complaint against the jail in federal court in Chicago in early April, and we asked for a temporary restraining order and our preliminary injunction specifically requested a few different things. One, the major goal was to try to get people out of the jail because it was massively overcrowded, had been for years, and so people could not social distance, and the disease was spreading like wildfire – we know how contagious it is. So we were asking for people to be released in a a few different ways, and we were also asking for conditions to be improved, including through sanitation, masking, social distancing, and by better treatment of the vulnerable, for those who are highly susceptible to a COVID, and specifically people who had pre-existing conditions and who are older. So we asked for many different things. But that's kind of those are the high level requests.

EO 05:24

Okay, so would you go a bit into the release aspect of your [work]?

AB 05:30

Yeah, I think we did what so many advocates I think we're trying to do around the country, which was to use COVID to highlight the problems generally of detention and incarceration, and try to use the disease as a way to facilitate getting people out who should not be there. So the jail is filled with almost all people who are in pretrial detention. It is not people who've been sentenced, meaning the people in there have not been convicted of anything. And yet, it was massively overcrowded. And there were so many people in there at risk of dying from COVID. So we asked for release on the grounds of habeas corpus; alternatively, we asked to see if detainees could essentially be furloughed, or transferred to home confinement on electronic monitoring. And we focused our requests on the people who were medically vulnerable, people who are high risk of catching and suffering very significant consequences from COVID. And initially, before bringing the class action lawsuit, MacArthur worked with the Cook County Public Defender to try to bring a mass bond reduction motion for everyone who was in the jail who was at risk, high risk of COVID. The public defender at the time, Amy Campanelli, did bring that motion, and said, you know, look, we have all these people in the jail who are at high risk of catching COVID. Most of these people are in on a bond they can't afford. They haven't been convicted of anything. Let's work together state and judges, and let's try to get them out. That motion was denied. The judge said, “You know what, this is an individualized decision. And I can't issue an order on hundreds of cases like this. So he said, Public Defender, State's Attorney, “you figure it out, you all meet and discuss and figure out ways to get people out.” So the Public Defender was working on release from that angle; she was trying to connect with the State's Attorney's office to see if they could agree that people would be released. Individual public defenders were also raising the issue of people getting out on bond reconsideration motions. But that wasn't really going to have a mass impact on the population in the jail. So we also raised the issue of release in our civil rights litigation through habeas and through this idea of furlough / transferring people to home confinement. So seeking release was one part of the requested ,and then improved conditions was another part of the requested relief..

EO 08:15

Got it. That's really interesting about the public defender writing the mass motion, it's kind of cool. It's all about factors and both interesting, like you could just apply a mass new factor overdraft…?

AB 08:26

Yeah, it was great. I mean, she was very much working with advocates on this, it was really a wonderful thing to do. Unfortunately, the judge didn't see our way. And I still think it's really unfortunate. But essentially the loss of that motion was what really led us to do a deep dive to push for release in federal court. And, you know, to cut to the chase ,it wasn't successful. The judge also denied that request for release in federal court and said, you know, if you want to get people out, it's an individual habeas action. And that's how you're going to have to do that. It's similar to what judges ruled across the country, and getting people released during COVID was very, very, very difficult. The other argument we made, which was very creative I thought, and I know other advocates made it as well nationwide, was that there's a section under the Prison Litigation Reform Act that allows for release of people from prisons, if the need for the release is due to overcrowding in the facility. And that was, you know, it's only been used once, really, for California's overcrowded prison system. And it's really complicated how you get to the point of release. You have to file the motion, and then the judge has to recommend that a three judge panel be put in place to hear it, and there have to be all these findings made, including that overcrowding is the basis of the requests for release and that no other less onerous form of relief will solve the problem. So we asked for that; we said, look, the reason these people are at risk is because it's too crowded in the jail. You can't social distance in the jail based on how many people are in it. And that wasn’t controversial; the sheriff admitted that was true in our case. So if that's true, then overcrowding is the source of the constitutional violation here and we are asking you, judge, to order a three judge panel to hear our request. It was a great argument but it was always going to be a long shot. Because this is just not a remedy judges wanted to engage with, ordering prisons to send people home is not a remedy judges want to issue. So we lost that, very sadly, I thought we had great arguments. But you know, judges did not believe this was really an overcrowding case. It wasn't that the facility was overcrowded, per se, it was just that COVID was making social distancing hard, which is a different thing, according to the court. So we lost that, but we did win certain really important measures in a preliminary injunction after we had a hearing. In that hearing, we had testimony by a correctional health expert. And the sheriff put on his operations director. The judge heard evidence from both sides and considered lots of briefing, which included affidavits from many detainees and their families about what it was like to live in the jail during the outbreak of COVID. And also, at the time, the New York Times was publishing how bad things were in Chicago, and there were people who were dying. Detainees were dying in the jail. COs were dying in the jail. So we had this hearing and the judge found for us and granted our preliminary injunction in part but denied the release requests, as I said. But the judge ordered social distancing in the jail, meaning there couldn't be packed dormitories in use. And there couldn't be double celling. The judge also issued requirements relating to quarantine and isolation and masking and sanitation at the time. So they were important measures that were put in place, especially I think, the social distancing measures which the sheriff did abide by for a time.

EO 12:32

That's, that's good. When was you said you filed the complaint in April 2020? And when was this preliminary injunction put in?

AB 12:40

Yes. later that month.

EO 12:41

Oh, wow. Okay, so it was quick.

AB 12:48

It was fast. We got a temporary restraining order first--

EO 12:48


AB 12:48

--within a week, and then within a couple of weeks, two or three weeks, we had a preliminary injunction. Okay. Yes, that's why it was, everything was on fire that much.

EO 12:58

Sounds very hectic. Yeah. We're either have I know – I've talked to a couple people that were in similar positions with these massive cases – was your case ever, like appealed and then changed or anything like that? Or was..[cuts off]

AB 13:16

Very unfortunately, yes. So the sheriff appealed to the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit upheld it in part and struck it down in part very unfortunately. But the Court overturned the social distancing requirement and upheld the other measures, which is good. But the social distancing part really was an important aspect of the preliminary injunction. And it was more than other places had gotten under similar court orders. That said, the court didn't strike down the injunction entirely. And it still remains one of the only orders that survived appeal in the country. The sheriff also sought a writ of certiorari from the from the US Supreme Court, and that was denied. So the PI [preliminary injunction] did survive, which is great, but it got narrowed.

EO 14:30

What was-- what was the reasoning that they kind of got rid of the social distancing stuff?

AB 14:35

I think it was… it's been a little bit since I've looked at it, and I can send the opinion, but I think it was that it overstepped the court's bounds. You know, there's a lot of discretion given to correctional facilities to make decisions about security and the management of the facility. And basically, the court felt that the district court judge had gone too far by emptying out of dorms and requiring single person celling and things like that. The appeals court just thought it was too intrusive. So that was the unfortunate decision.

EO 15:19

But some of it remained on?

AB 15:19

Some of it remained. Yep.

EO 15:20

And then I want to make sure I didn't have any other questions about the consequences of this case…

AB 15:23

And I should say, the case was argued in August 2020. And decided in September 2020.

EO 15:52

So between April/May of 2020, in August and September was all of the preliminary injunction. Things were those in place in the jail, or was there a lot of resistance from the sheriff to implement them?

AB 16:07

We did do an inspection of the jail in summer 2020 to see whether measures were being implemented; we went with our experts to tour it. So yeah, I mean, the Sheriff was complying with the order as far as like, the basics went, I think the problem was once the appellate process started; once the Sheriff decided to seek a writ of certiorari, the case as stayed. So we couldn't really do much to investigate what was going on in the jail after that, and the appeals process took a long time. There was a lot of briefing and it took a long time for the Supreme Court to deny certiorari, which means we were actively prohibited from getting discovery or getting to know more about what was going on in the jail. And that was incredibly frustrating.

EO 16:56

Got it. Okay. Um, and then I just want to briefly ask about, you said, you worked with the public defender's and then you were told to kind of negotiate with the prosecutors in the county…

AB 17:08

The public defender was, well, the judge, the judge, in denying the motion said, I believe, you know, something to the effect of I expect that all the parties here meaning this, the state and the defender, public defender will work together to make sure that people are protected, and to make sure that people can be released. It was very much just, “you figure this out.” That was that was in March 2020. So it was just really early on. I don't think anybody knew or dealing with at that point. .

EO 17:43

And was there any collaboration and coming to a solution between the prosecutors and the public defenders? or No?

AB 17:49

There were definitely no global agreements. I think both sides would say they did work to try to protect people. I don't think there was anything that was of a global scale.

EO 18:09

Okay, and then so this case about Cook county jails against the Sheriff's Department. Was this the primary case you worked on during COVID? Or did you work on other cases regarding COVID conditions?

AB 18:21

This is the primary case I worked on. My colleague, Vanessa del Valle, along with other co-counsel, Sheila Bedi, Alan Mills, Amanda Anholt, and Liz Mazur worked on the case against the IDOC, the Illinois Department of Corrections, Money v. Pritzker. And there were two separate teams. I focus entirely on the jail. Basically, those cases were both full time jobs. And Money, they were able to get relief as well; the lawsuit led to mass releases. And Vanessa would be a good person to ask about that. But they were doing that at the same time as we were litigating Mays v. Dart.

EO 19:16

What were the particular..? Or because your case was about jails instead of prisons, how did that change your [work]?

AB 19:25

Yeah, it was easier for us because the constitutional standard is different. This is very in the weeds, but the standard that applies to prisons is the eighth amendment. And it's very hard to prove Eighth Amendment violations; you have to show that the prison was deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of prisoners. In the Seventh Circuit, there's very good case law to say that you just have to show that the sheriff of a jail was objectively unreasonable. Not that the Sheriff had any specific intent to hurt anybody. We just had to show that the jail is just not acting reasonably by an objective standard in how its responding to COVID. And the difference in those standards really made it a lot easier for us to meet our burden in the preliminary injunction phase.

EO 20:21


AB 20:21

[coughs] Sorry, I kind of going around…fall in Chicago,

EO 20:30

Is it cold there?

AB 20:33

You know what the weather's been changing a lot? Like, I was gonna say warm, cold, warm. All that about all the respiratory illnesses are coming back in and out.

EO 20:41

Yeah. It's about 100 degrees here. So…

AB 20:43

I've heard. Oh, my gosh (mumbled speech) .

EO 20:50

Yeah. So just kind to take a bit of a pivot about like, specific people you interacted with in all of this. So like judges, attorneys, you were up against the Sheriff's Department, the correctional officers. Were you surprised by some people, pleasantly or negatively? Were you impressed by anyone's work? I don't know-- just a general question.

AB 21:22

I think, um, I was really impressed by the public defender’s willingness to be creative. Just seek relief in a way that was very distinct from the type of litigation they normally do, which is very, as a matter of course, individual client based because of course, the Public Defender does individual defense. But Amy Campanelli was really willing to try something new to try to seek more global relief, and I thought that was terrific. The other thing is that everything we accomplished in Mays v. Dart was done with the support of the Chicago Community Bond Fund. They were amazing. They essentially served as investigators, they talked to detainees, they talked to detainees, families, they got affidavits, they helped us respond to families who called in. I mean, they were the ones who were helping us really know what was going on on the ground. And given that we were a pretty small legal team, and there were no visits allowed at the time in the jail because of COVID restrictions, that was just the most crucial form of help. And honestly, they were just on the frontlines of this entire case. They are amazing. The work they do is amazing. And how they really pivoted and focused on the needs of people in the jail during COVID was just very courageous. And it was very laudable because they spent so many hours and they made sure there were tons of volunteers available. It was really an all hands on deck effort. So I have to give a huge shout out to them for that. And, you know, I guess the only other thing is it was it was frustrating that we couldn't come to a settlement at the time during the height of the pandemic. This was litigation as normal. So what really made this different was just how I thought, yeah, the public defender and the community groups, especially the bond fund, really kind of went outside thought outside the box about how to protect people in the jail.

EO 23:36

Yeah, was the bond fund like a pre-existing organization? Or did they…

AB 23:41

It was. It was and they have been doing amazing work. They were part of the larger campaign against the use of cash bail. And it's a separate issue. But in Illinois, the governor signed the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act in 2021. And a lot of that had to do with pretrial detention reform that the Bond Fund had helped lobby for and push for, for years. Illinois is abolishing cash bond in 2023 is a result of those efforts. So the Bond Fund is very successful in its advocacy. But yes, they already existed at the time the lawsuit began and they had a strong structure, which made them a natural partner. But they definitely expanded the scope of their work during COVID.

EO 24:26

Got it. Got it. And yeah as for, it seems like it. Um, and then as for you said that you were a little disappointed that the sheriff wasn't more willing to settle or anything. What about people in the court system, like judges or other attorneys? Were they more or less [disappointing]?

AB 24:46

I've always believed that litigating in the court system is one tool in what has to be a much larger advocacy effort to obtain decarceration because judges are just not willing or not able to do the kinds of things that are required to get people out of prison en masse. And I think COVID really just brought that home and emphasized that. Release orders just didn't come about as a result of COVID. And advocates had really hoped that this would be a moment where we could get that kind of mass relief, and we couldn't. And I'd say, I'm not surprised, but it was, it's disheartening. And it just makes it all the more important to do other forms of advocacy that actually can really, really, really result in mass change, and hopefully mass releases.

EO 25:44

Okay. And speaking of other forms of advocacy, did you utilize the media in any sphere?

AB 25:49

Oh yeah, I mean, it was we did, the media was cut did great coverage. Inustice Watch had a COVID tracker in the jail of how much COVID had spread in the jail, and who was dying of it. And they followed it every day for months and months and months and months. I think they might still have it up. The Sun Times covered it. The Chicago Tribune covered it. Block Club Chicago covered it. So it was the major outlets and also the newer ones who were more localized were covering it. The sheriff had a lot of press coverage, but we did as well. And we spent a lot of time talking to the media about what was going on inside the jail. And we did news or news presentations, and we did press conferences on Zoom; we did a lot of things to try to call attention to what people were suffering inside.

EO 26:47

Yeah, what did that look like? Um, you said that the sheriff had a lot of press coverage. So it was it kind of did you respond often to what the sheriff was saying? Or vice versa?

AB 26:57

Yep. We would usually hear from news outlets about what the sheriff was saying and they would then call for comment. And we would provide comment on why we thought what the sheriff was saying was not actually what was happening on the ground. The press also called to find out about what happened in court. So if you know, the judge entered this order today, what does that mean? And we'd say what it means and why it was necessary. So we had a lot, we had the benefit of a lot of local focus on the jail, and even some national focus, too. I mean, Esquire did a piece on it. So it was it was great in that it was not something that was being swept under the rug by the local media. There was attention paid to it. So I really appreciated that.

EO 27:43

Yeah, did that attention [decrease over time]? I know, I've talked to other people about media, and they were really interested in March of 2020, and then it kind of petered down and went back up. Did you feel any of that? Or were they pretty consistently covering?

AB 27:58

The most amount of coverage was between April 2020 and the summer, for sure. And now it is, you know, less. It's just less. It is, you know, if something happens to trigger coverage again, you know, if people start to die in the Jail again, that's when they pay attention. But yeah, it was very much focused on the major outbreak at first, and all the court action happening around that, then.

EO 28:34

Got it. In the media, did you try to connect? Like, if the jail has a COVID outbreak, then the area that is around…?

AB 28:43

Oh yeah, oh Yeah, very much for like this is not just because of course, we were trying to make the broadest kind of message possible, like, Yes, lots of us care about what happens to people in the jail because we should, and because they're human beings. And also, there's so many disparities in who is in that jail; it's largely black and Latinx, a huge over-representative of the number of black and Latinx people in the county population. So this is a issue of racial justice. But also it's an issue of public health, because if people in the jail are spreading COVID, people come out of jail, and then they spread it to their communities. So you're trying to make this point: COs go in and out of the jail and bring it home to their communities. So this was just really an issue of public health, an issue of racial justice, an issue of morality. We tried to make the argument on every on every ground that we could, and the stats backed us up; the health stats showed that when the community levels rise, the jail levels rise, and they're inseparable from one another.

EO 29:52

Yeah, absolutely. What did you find was the most effective argument in convincing any members of the public that could go either way on an issue?

AB 30:03

I don't know. You know, as lawyers, we have no way to track public opinion on these things. I think maybe journalists have a better insight into that. I just don't know.

EO 30:15

I am asking for my own curiosity [laughs]

AB 30:17

I like to think that they convinced the judge. I like to think what convinced the judge was all of the detainee affidavits. And the evidence of our experts saying that this is not how the jail should be run, given a major, deadly outbreak. I think that's what the judge paid attention to. But the racial injustice and the racial inequities are the backdrop to all this, and obviously, the economic discrimination, because the people who are in there are people who can't pay cash bonds. So basically, it became like, you could be at risk of death, because you cannot pay your bond was also an argument that the Bond Fund pushed that I think was really effective.

EO 31:06

Yeah and kind of, in that vein of the affidavits and the personal stories, did you do any of the client, the communication with people in the jail? Or was that mostly the bond fund?

AB 31:19

We did as well. We talked to a lot of families, we talked to people who were inside. It was just basically an all hands on deck situation. So you could talk to as many people as possible, find out what was going on in different divisions, because it's such a large prison.

EO 31:47

Okay, and what did that communication look like? Considering I assume your…[cuts off]

AB 31:51

Phone calls, a lot of phone calls. We won the right to get a hotline put up in the Jail during the case. So we had people who would leave messages on the hotline and family members would provide third hand information. People would call their family members, their family members would call us, and we talked to family members of what was going on inside. It wasn't the greatest situation, but it was really hard to be in touch with people in the Jail. Now, you know, later in the pandemic, they had a process set up by which you could do video calls with people. And that made it a lot easier. But that was not that was not in place in the spring of 2020.

EO 32:31

Did you have any issues? Or concerns about phone calls or video conferences being recorded or listened to in any way?

AB 32:39

No. Because of what was going on at the time, so many of my calls were with family members; overhears weren’t a high priority concern at the time.

EO 32:49

What was talking to the family, like I would assume it was very…?

AB 32:55

it was really hard, and they were so frustrated. They couldn't do anything. And they're, you know, hearing about these awful, awful conditions and its just heartbreaking…it just sucked; but it was motivating too because, you know, we try to relay these stories to the judge as much as we could, like, this is what is going on in there. The Sheriff’s says everything is fine. It is not fine. And here is the proof of that; here are declarations A through ZZ saying it's not fine. I'm really grateful to family members for being willing to tell us what was happening in the Jail.

EO 33:34

This is kind of an in the weeds, like logistical question with those affidavits? How did did someone go to the jail to have those kind of written or were they written and then some electronically signed?

AB 33:46

The court system was accepting affidavits in a different form than they usually do. The investigator would sign on behalf of detainees and family members and say I took this declaration after talking to so and so. And it said they signed under penalty of perjury, and that this is true to the best of my ability, but we weren't being able we weren't able at that point to do formal declarations. And preliminary injunctions don't require it, the evidentiary rules aren't as strict. So we're just trying to get evidence in any form that we could before the judge at that point.

EO 34:20

Got it. Okay. Okay, that makes total sense. Um, and so kind of as an advocate, as a lawyer, how did, how did you change during the pandemic working specifically with these people if at all?

AB 34:34

Um, I think I just, I mean, it was really I just think it was really good to have something to, to work on. My skill is as an attorney, that is what I can bring to the fight and I was glad to be able to do something. I was just so frustrated at what was happening, the way people who are already targeted in the criminal legal system, they’re now at risk of death, because of those terrible conditions. And so the ability to be able to do something, anything to push for change in that system was really, I was really grateful. And I think that's why I just worked so hard. And it was a really good way to try to deal with, frankly, my own personal stress during that time. Like, I had all the childcare issues to figure out and fear of sickness and family members being sick, I was scared of all that. But this was a really helpful, like, focus, and I put all my energy into it. Um, I think I'm pretty burned out. And so by the time things calmed down a bit, I don't know, I still feel burned out from COVID. But I'm really, really grateful for the chance to work on that case, and will forever be grateful to have been a part of that team.

EO 36:00

Do you think you'll like take any of that with you, as we hopefully exit this?

AB 36:05

Yeah, I mean, I don't think we'll ever fully exit. So my goal now is just we're still working, we're still in the case, we're still trying to figure out a more long term solution, because COVID, I think, is going to be with us forever. So what does it look like to protect from a long term disease that is like the flu, but worse in some cases? So that's our new focus. And I, I think I learned a lot about litigating emergency motions and litigating on the fly and responding to unknown and unforeseen circumstances. I learned a lot about lawyering and about what I can do during emergencies. So it was it was a good experience in terms of professional and personal development. But it was still incredibly frustrating that we weren't able to achieve more.

EO 36:55

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it does seem like you were able to get some, like actual changes in the jails. With the masking and the sanitation

AB 37:04

Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. I hope so. I, you know, we're still working on that part. So maybe we'll have a follow up conversation in a few months. And we'll see. But, yeah, I think, you know, I'm proud of what we accomplished. I wish we could have accomplished a lot more; and we’re still working to have a long term solution in the jail.

EO 37:27

Earlier, you had said, and I meant to come back to this earlier earlier about kind of hoping that COVID would expose a larger issue in the jails and prisons that we had kind of have a larger conversation about, I was wondering if you could expand a little about whether or not that happened at all?

AB 37:44

This was a time when people were paying so much attention to people in prison and people in jail because of, they were like sitting, they were sitting ducks, they couldn't distance, they couldn't get access to medical care unless the jail decided to give it to them. I mean, it was really a time where we were looking at what seemed like a modern day plague, and some people were completely unprotected from it by virtue of being incarcerated. And I thought set of circumstances would really help change public opinion about how people were treated in detention. And for our part, since we're dealing with a jail case, we're highlighting the fact that these people were pretrial! They have not been convicted! They had been presumed guilty before actually being found so by a court, and that was really a message we tried to emphasize. I think, again, like the media attention, public attention is fickle. They did pay attention to it. But also there were so many calls on people's attention; there were just so many emergencies. And people in detention and who were incarcerated were one huge facet of what was terrible about COVID. But I do think I was a little naive if I thought it was going to have a long term impact. Maybe I'm pretty pessimistic, but it doesn't seem to have, the jail is still as crowded as ever. I think the elimination of cash bond; I have great hope for that. In January 2023, it is supposed to go into effect. But unfortunately, I haven't seen a huge long term change to how we treat incarcerated people in Illinois as a result of COVID.

EO 40:02

Yeah, maybe with time we can try to act…

AB 40:06

Not quite.. I know. I know, you know.

EO 40:09

So I want to let you go. I just wanted to remind you that we'll send you a transcript. Hopefully in the next few weeks. You just read it over redact anything you want, send it back, and then we'll upload it.

AB 40:19

Thank you so much, Eireann. Sorry. Sorry about cutting this short.

EO 40:23

No, no, you're all good. Okay. I'm going to end the recording. So you just leave and I'll stay here. Perfect.

AB 40:30

Good luck with everything.

EO 40:31

Thank you. You too. Bye.

AB 40:32