Sangamon County judge orders Illinois DHS secretary to appear in court, here's why

Zach Roth
State Journal-Register

The head of the Illinois Department of Human Services has been ordered to appear in Sangamon County court to respond to charges the agency failed to comply with orders to accept two county jail inmates at mental health facilities.

Judge Adam Giganti, in two orders Wednesday, ruled in favor of petitions by Sangamon County State's Attorney Dan Wright stemming from April court orders requiring mental health treatment for inmates Alfred Berry, 34, and Anthony A. McNeil, 35.

Grace Hou, secretary of IDHS, was ordered to appear at 1:30 p.m. June 27 to explain why the department and the secretary failed to comply with the rulings and why they should not be held in indirect civil contempt of court.  

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The order said DHS was notified on April 20 that McNeil be placed at the Andrew McFarland Mental Health Center for treatment, with an additional notification on April 22 for Berry to be placed in the exact same facility. Both had been deemed unfit to stand trial on April 7, with DHS required to find treatment for the two. The court was notified of the decision by Circuit Clerk Paul Palazzolo.

The order accuses DHS of not complying with the initial order and all other notifications of where the two should seek treatment. Both inmates remain at the Sangamon County Jail awaiting transport.

The court could rule at the June 27 hearing that DHS pay daily costs for keeping the two in jail for the period they were awaiting transport to McFarland.

Contact Zach Roth: (217) 899-4338; ZDRoth@gannett.com; @ZacharyRoth13