Prison violence spikes after closures
An alarming string of violent – even deadly – incidents has followed in the wake of the Quinn administration’s push to close state correctional facilities, increasing the already substantial risks faced every day by DOC and DJJ workers.
Since the early January closure of Tamms CC – once home to the state’s most notorious and violent inmates – correctional officers, other inmates and even clergy have been the targets of attacks:
- On Jan. 3, a guard at Pinckneyville CC was assaulted.
- On Jan. 10, four guards were assaulted by two juveniles housed at IYC Joliet.
- On Jan. 19, a guard at Menard CC was injured in an attack.
- On Jan. 28, an officer at Pontiac CC was attacked by an inmate and suffered injuries that required facial reconstruction surgery.
- On Jan. 31, an inmate at Menard died in an apparent homicide.
- On Feb. 5, two guards and a prison chaplain at Menard CC were assaulted by inmates.
Despite this outbreak of violent incidents, the Quinn administration is pressing forward with further closures that will result in less space in a system that is already dangerously overcrowded.
The administration is currently shifting around inmates in order to accommodate those incarcerated at Dwight CC. Prisons that have been taking in more inmates have been forced to suspend programs like mental health screenings and rehabilitative programming to devote resources to the influx of prisoners.
The administration has also announced that IYC Joliet – which houses the state’s most violent juvenile offenders – will close later this month.
The closures have also forced many workers to either uproot their families or spend hours each day traveling to and from work.
The increased threat of violence was one of the main reasons AFSCME fought vigorously to prevent the closure of correctional facilities. However, in December the state Supreme Court lifted an injunction that had prevented the closures for six months.
AFSCME is closely monitoring the Quinn administration’s implementation of closures and is pressing the state to provide more information on its plans for Dwight and other facilities. However, the state has yet to respond to the union’s requests.