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More evidence of DoC harassment?

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012

* The AP has uncovered a new memo

An email from an Illinois Department of Corrections administrator ordered wardens at 10 prisons to conduct “mass shakedowns” of staff as they left work last week, at the same time workers were telling lawmakers about problems at the facilities.

The July 19 memo obtained by The Associated Press is from Ty Bates, the department’s southern region deputy director.

It was sent less than 20 minutes after a hearing started at the state Capitol, where a dozen workers testified about prison overcrowding and understaffing. […]

Bates’ email to the 10 prison wardens and a halfway house superintendent asked that they “please ensure we conduct a mass shakedown on a shift of your choosing” by the end of last week.

It was dated July 19 at 11:18 a.m.

The testimony by prison workers in Springfield began at 11 a.m.

Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the workers’ union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, called the shakedowns “retaliatory harassment” for employees who were speaking out publicly.

Correlation is not always causation, but at the very least this memo was unfortunately timed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


28 Comments
  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    Rich -

    Just to clarify, were the shakedowns ordered only at facilities that are slated for closure?

    YDD


  2. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:06 am:

    Timing is everything.


  3. - soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    Was any reason given for the shakedowns? Have their been incidents involving staff improprieties?


  4. - soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:12 am:

    Was any reason given for the shakedown? Have there been incidents involving staff improprieties?


  5. - transplant - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    I find it interesting that Bates directed the wardens to conduct the shakedowns of employees as they were leaving the facilities, and even underlined the word “leaving” for emphasis. The reasons given by the agency for the increased security are recent discoveries of contraband inside the prisons, not things taken out.


  6. - Problem? - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:29 am:

    I don’t see the problem with the searches. If it is allowed by current agency policy and the employees have done nothing wrong (such as having agency property or confidential information on their person upon leaving, what is the issue?


  7. - WazUp - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:39 am:

    What if anything was found in the shakedowns?


  8. - bartelby - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    There appears to be underway a mini-insurrection of guards, orchestrated by Lindall, Bayer and others. It involves false or inflated claims about contraband, weapons, prison violence and overcrowded, and is intended to restore funding to Tamms and Dwight. AFSCME has seen the writing on the wall — at a time of fiscal austerity, an inflated prison system cannot be justified — and they are doing all they can to regain the upper hand. IDOC cannot easily fire corrections officers who lodge false changes against prisoners, but they can try to prevent them from bringing in, or taking out contraband that may be used buttress the false claims. I say good for the IDOC — I can’t believe I am saying that about a state agency and large bureaucracy, but I must.


  9. - Alan Mills - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    Random shakedowns of staff have been routine for over a decade. It is one of the management changes instituted during the major shakeups of 1996–1998, following release of the Speck tapes.

    That said, if the shakedowns are being ordered in retaliation for speech by guards, then that is a problem. Without knowing more, no way to know.


  10. - Dan Bureaucrat - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:48 am:

    I still don’t understand what people think these guards are “telling the truth” about. They are publicizing incidents that happen all the time in IDOC–and then crying out to the press that they are because of the closures. Press is eating it up.

    Menard has been on steady lockdown for years. There are incidents in medium security prisons all the time. Shakedowns happen all the time and weapons are found in these shakedowns all the time. And yes, guys are put on interstate compact. That’s corrections for you.

    It is very disturbing to see the guards so openly oppose these policies. If they are concerned about overcrowding, then they should push to reduce the prison population.

    But they don’t want the prison population reduced, they want prisons to stay open.


  11. - Dan Bureaucrat - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    Isn’t it possible that the IDOC is concerned about employees taking out inmate property to alter into cell phones? Or taking correspondence out?

    Is the only theory available that they were trying to stop guards from taking files out to leak to reporters and threaten security?

    Actually, that seems like a reasonable concern.


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    In the past, what contraband has been found during shakedowns when employees are leaving?


  13. - sal-says - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    “Correlation is not always causation, but at the very least this memo was unfortunately timed”

    …not always causation…

    BUT…this is IL !


  14. - Jechislo - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    Gotta love Illinois where every level of State government is run like Chicago. /s off


  15. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    but they can try to prevent them from bringing in, or taking out contraband that may be used buttress the false claims.

    What? Smuggle out contraband to buttress a false claim?

    How does that work? I claim a dude had some pot on him or something then take it home? Then what claim I found it at my home or in my car?

    Seriously, how can taking something out of a prison be used to frame a guy in jail?


  16. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    –Gotta love Illinois where every level of State government is run like Chicago.–

    Whatever that is supposed to mean. Al Capone, bang-bang.


  17. - bartelby - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 11:28 am:

    Hey One Man — How can taking out materials from prison buttress false claims? Here’s how: If it is more dangerous for a guard to leave contraband behind — say in a locker - than to take it home; if intelligence about prisoners or other staff is needed in order to better fashion a future trumped-up claim; if a prisoner provides a payment of some kind in exchange for something useful to a guard. For prisoners to have contraband, the collusion of guards is generally necessary and history has shown that both parties exercise greater imaginativeness than either of us.


  18. - idocemployee - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    All of you have interesting concerns.. Searches are authorized.. However, searches should be done systematically and with a purpose… Because we are state employees we do not relinquish rights, etc.. And, overcrowding is a problem… So maybe everyone, including AFSCME, needs to step away from the hype and concern themselves with the realityof the times and conditions that exist…A dialogue that is meaningful and with purpose would be nice, a grown up conversation…. The politics of this are overwhelming the system, therefore it will fail……..


  19. - Sick and Tired - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 11:50 am:

    I am sick and tired of the hateful AFSCME UNION using anything and everything as an excuse to keep Tamms open.Give it a break! There are 11 other prisons in Southern IL,one the Marion Federal Prison.They have jobs and IDOC has many vacancies for them to bid.They are crying like babies! Now ex-Gov.Edgar has commented on HIS Tamms. It has been printed that he oversaw the construction of Tamms.His wife grew-up in Anna/Jonesboro,just 16-18 miles north of Tamms.They inherited 1000 acres from her father in Johnson Co bordering Alexander Co where Tamms is located. Gov.Edgar also inherited her father’s race horses. Since Tamms is in his backyard, he could just get on his horse and race right over! Maybe someone should check to see why the Supermax was built in Tamms, IL in the first place.Was there a conflict of interest? Tamms is not the problem here.The problem is AFSCME guards and staff stealing confidential internal files with names of inmates and planned IDOC action and releasing them to the press which could cause harm to those inmates and other staff. Continue the shakedown of guards/staff. What files are they hiding under those uniforms? I support Gov. Quinn in trying to save the State of IL. We are bankrupt,owing 8 billion or more in current bills. Where does AFSCME think their paychecks are coming from? Maybe they should be the first ones not paid. The hospitals and nursing homes are months behind on thier paymsnts. And better yet,the Legislators who do not support Quinn, should also relinquish thier paychecks. Just sick and tired of all these special interest grops and pork-barrel trade-offs. Save Illinois! Save us taxpayers!


  20. - state worker - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 1:34 pm:

    Here’s the problem: there is a culture inside IDOC prisons that needs to change with the times. But, they don’t like change. They don’t like prison closures. They don’t like rehabilitation.. Most of all, they don’t like evidence-based policies. Current policies insure high recidivism rates. We are really messing people up. Administrators share this culture, but they are more open to the big picture.

    AFSCME is a big barrier to improving policies and making some of the gains that other states have made to improve safety and save tons of money.

    Here, they accuse the IDOC administrators of being gang affiliated!!!! Like the completely insane comment above.

    In some states, they had to fire staff who opposed reform. I wish we could do that here but we can’t. It’s AFSCME.


  21. - Ronbo - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 1:37 pm:

    I worked IDOC for 28 years. I’ve never heard of anyone getting searched on the way out. I have no doubt that the shakedown was done as retaliation. With the pay freeze, pension cuts, unpaid raises, and pending facility closures, I’d imagine that the Department of Corrections is headed for major trouble, and not all of it will come from the inmates. Employee morale has to be dredging the bottom. Dangerous conditions would be imminent from that alone. When they end up with a workforce that just doesn’t care anymore, combined with all the other changes, it is just a matter of time. It won’t get any better as long as they continue down this road either. As the job becomes even less desirable they will get even less desirable employees. I remember the old days in Corrections where we had to hire 2 or 3 people to fill each opening at the max joints and they had to work several weeks on the job before being sent to the academy for training because most of them didn’t stick around that long. If the economy ever starts to turn around I can see that situation returning.


  22. - river - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    first of all if you have never worked in a prison then you dont have the right to say that its all AFSCME fault 2nd you have no rights as a officer they make sure those baby rapers murders drug addicts dont escape and harm you or your family I agree if you have nothing to hide you ought to be okay with the shake-downs not a big thing far as us whinning Dan you must not have ever worked or dealt with convicts it is usually the other way around. Exactly why would anyone want to take anything out and store it in there Cell phones about a inmate are you serious you have no clue


  23. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 2:20 pm:

    “The problem is that top DOC administrators know that there are employees who have proof of their alliance with a major street gang, including when one of those administrators went to see some of the leaders of that gang and told them when and where they would be transfered to.”

    Whoa there, huckster, slow down a bit. So you have proof that Dept. of Corrections Administrators have an “alliance” with gang members?

    Rich - please do something about this goober.


  24. - state worker - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 4:39 pm:

    river is illustrating my last point for me.


  25. - Crime Fighter - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 4:48 pm:

    Both the Blago and Quinn administration officials have misused their positions to retaliate against employees who have done nothing wrong. In fact, even whistleblowers have paid a price and have been wrongly berated and fired by Quinn officials. Illinois has always been a rough employer to work for but it has been even worse under phony ethical guy Quinn. The IDOC games don’t surprise me a bit, at least they didn’t get summarily fired.


  26. - Really? - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 6:16 pm:

    How much OT was generated by keeping staff past their shift? With OT costs always being “reviewed” by DOC administration how many staff actually were searched? The searches were probably low in numbers, not the masses.


  27. - Blah Blah Blah - Tuesday, Jul 31, 12 @ 6:33 pm:

    This is Illinois. Illinois is corrupt and whistle blowers are not going to be supported. The OEIG is used to cover issues up for the political elite. The OEIG will leave the the elite alone and then go after the little guy and whistle blowers. Those two parole agents should have never been investigated.

    The Associated Press needs to go after Quinn.


  28. - 4_Nubbs - Wednesday, Aug 1, 12 @ 7:40 am:

    To add! The closure of Tamms isn’t justified, except for the concerns of a group of self or special interest. The prison closures have little to do about balancing the state budget or being cost effective. Because this is about freeing up money at all cost to be diverted to projects of self or special interest. Like tieing into Obama’s $450 billion Jobs Plan, the High Speed Rail System, and Obama Care. This is about sticking it to the middle class to forgo an agenda of self or special interest!


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