* So, of course, what we need to do right away is close a prison and lay off guards…
Too many inmates and too few guards have led to dangerous conditions at the state’s second oldest prison, according to a report issued Tuesday.
The report by the John Howard Association said the Menard Correctional Center in Chester has had an “alarming” number of staff and inmate assaults this year, primarily because the prison has the worst inmate-to-staff ratio of all of Illinois’ maximum-security facilities.
The Chicago-based prison watchdog group said there have been 14 staff assaults since Jan. 1, including one in the prison library that sent a correctional officer to a St. Louis hospital with facial fractures.
“Inadequate security not only jeopardizes the physical safety of inmates and staff, but it also undermines rehabilitation efforts and creates a psychologically damaging environment for everyone who lives and works behind the prison wall,” the report noted.
* More from the report…
* Over the last year and a half, Menard was on full or partial lockdown roughly half of the time.
* The average inmate at Menard spends roughly 21 to 22 hours a day locked in cells idle, with little or no activity or opportunity for normal social and human interaction.
* A few of the John Howard Association’s recommendations…
(1) The Illinois Governor and General Assembly must reduce the prison population through sentencing reform, enacting a safe replacement for Meritorious Good Time, and providing Menard and other DOC facilities with the funding and staffing needed to meet the population’s basic physical and mental health needs. If such actions are not taken, it is all but inevitable that this issue will end up being litigated in the courts.
(2) The practice of using prolonged segregation to discipline mentally ill inmates should be abandoned at Menard and all DOC facilities. […]
(3) Further inquiry should be undertaken by Menard’s administration and the DOC to determine whether excessive use of force and abuse of inmates may be a systemic problem at Menard, given the unusually high number of reports JHA received from inmates of abuse by correctional staff.
Officials in Lincoln expect a full house at a public hearing Oct. 26 on Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close Logan Correctional Center.
The hearing will begin at 5 p.m. in the chapel at Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln.
“We really need to pack the place and show our support for the prison,” Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder said. […]
To oppose the closure, a coalition of Logan County business, labor and economic development groups has formed, the Lincoln City Council has sent a letter to Quinn, and more than 1,800 people have signed petitions in Lincoln.
That isn’t very many signatures, considering the economic impact of closing that facility. Lincoln has a history of dealing with state closures, so you’d think they’d be more organized.