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Medical Release Act (Joe Coleman Act)

Beginning on January 1, 2022, the Medical Release Act, also known as the Joe Coleman Act, will be enacted to allow individuals in custody that are suffering from a terminal illness or medical incapacitation​, to file a medical release application.  "Medically incapacitated" means an individual in custody has any diagnosable medical condition, including dementia and severe, permanent medical or cognitive disability, that prevents the individual in custody from completing more than one activity of daily living without assistance or that incapacitates the individual in custody to the extent that institutional confinement does not offer additional restrictions, and that the condition is unlikely to improve noticeably in the future.  "Terminal illness" means a condition that satisfies all of the following criteria: (i) the condition is irreversible and incurable; (ii) in accordance with medical standards and a reasonable degree of medical certainty, based on an individual assessment of the individual in custody, the condition is likely to cause death to the individual in custody within 18 months.


The Board shall consider an application for medical release on behalf of any individual in custody who meets any of the following:

  • is suffering from a terminal illness; or
  • has been diagnosed with a condition that will result in medical incapacity within the next 6 months; or
  • has become medically incapacitated subsequent to sentencing due to illness or injury.


Once the Board's staff receives the application and documents, it will be reviewed to ensure compliance with all of the filing guidelines.  The Applicant, or representative, will be notified in writing if additional information is required for completion of the Medical Release Application.  The Board will also request a written evaluation from a physician or nurse practitioner with the Illinois Department of Corrections Healthcare Unit at the holding facility to provide further medical details. 





The application may be filled out, signed and emailed back to, mailed or faxed to (217) 524-0012, Attn:  Medical Release Act.

The Applicant, and/or the representative who filed on behalf of the individual in custody, will receive a confirmation letter which will include application received date, a Medical Release number and the date of the hearing, if one was requested.  No public hearing is required for consideration of an application, but shall be granted at the request of the Applicant, and/or their representative.  The individual in custody will not be present but may be represented by counsel and may present witnesses to the Board at the hearing.  Personal presentation at the hearing is limited.  No more than four (4) persons in total may speak during any presentation, inclusive of the Applicants witnesses and/or their attorney.  Crime Victims will be given a 30 day notice and will also be afforded the opportunity to respond and/or speak at a public hearing, if so desired. 

Once the Applicant, and/or the representative who filed on behalf of the individual in custody, has received their confirmation letter they will be directed to have their witnesses register their information for the hearing.  A total of four witnesses, including counsel, will be allowed to speak at the hearing and all individuals, including counsel will take an affirmation of oath at the time of the hearing. All hearings will be conducted via video conference which will require participants to have the capability to be present by video (i.e. smartphones with a camera, video conference equipment, iPad with cameras, laptops/computers with camera capability, etc.) and all cameras must remain on during the hearing.

Applications will be reviewed and decided by a three-member panel and a decision to grant or deny an application shall be made by simple majority within 90 days of the completed application received date.  Individuals in custody granted medical release shall be released on mandatory supervised release for a period of 5 years which shall operate to discharge any remaining term of years imposed upon him or her.  However, in no event shall the individual in custody serve a period of mandatory supervised release greater than the aggregate of the discharged underlying sentence and the mandatory supervised release period.

Filing an application under the Medical Release Act does not preclude an Applicant from seeking alternative forms of release, including Clemency, relief from the sentencing court, post-conviction relief, or any other legal remedy.