February 28, 2018

More Violence at Pontiac Correctional Center

A sergeant at Pontiac Correctional Center, a member of AFSCME Local 494, was attacked on Feb. 21 in what appears to be a coordinated assault by inmates in an administrative detention cell house.

Two officers were making rounds in the two-story cell house, when an inmate threw a sharp metal object—believed to be a motor from a fan—at the sergeant’s head. He was struck behind the ear. Multiple inmates started throwing objects out of their cells as the sergeant and lieutenant quickly made their way from the top floor to the bottom and out the doors.

The sergeant was taken to the hospital and required stitches in his head, but he returned to work at his next shift.

The attack was an organized effort, AFSCME Council Staff Representative Joe Pluger said, that involved roughly 40 inmates. The cells are barred, allowing inmates to throw objects and stick their arms out in order to attempt to inflict harm.

Local 494 President William Lee, a correctional officer at Pontiac, said that the inmates inflicted considerable damage to their cells, ripping outlets and fixtures from the walls, breaking hard plastic property boxes into pieces, building spears and shanks from long pieces of metal, shards of light bulbs, and any other materials at hand. Several inmates lit clothes and towels on fire, tossing them out of their cells in an apparent attempt to ignite the gas line of the heater.

The gallery floors were slick with Vaseline and water when the tactical team arrived to quell the disturbance. Pontiac’s own tactical team was the first onsite, but teams came from other facilities across the state. The facility was on lockdown and it took three days to move inmates around the prison and shake down cells.

Lee said the incident was handled expertly by AFSCME members, and so far management has responded appropriately. The event is currently under investigation by the Illinois Department of Corrections.

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