Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Report finds “alarming” conditions at state prison
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Report finds “alarming” conditions at state prison

Wednesday, Oct 5, 2011

* 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.

Great. Wonderful.

* 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.

* Meanwhile

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 7:02 am:

    Reform needs to include taking a serious look at how drug offenders are sentenced.

  2. - Hank - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:00 am:

    The way I see this, this Corrections issue starts with the legislature. The options are either sentencing reform, build more prisons, or pay through the nose in litigation and also risk riots. It’s sad our some of our legislators do not appear to recognize the safety risks associated to this problem.

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:10 am:

    I give the John Howard folks a lot of points for their work, but in bad economic times there’s not enough oxygen in the room for prison conditions to get reasonable consideration.

  4. - Peter Snarker - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:17 am:

    I second Aldyth. After watching Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” this week I am reminded again as to the dolly of our drug policy.

  5. - Ghost - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:22 am:

    if only we had some brand new state of the art high security facility online sitting vacant just waiting for inmates and staff /cough

  6. - Wilson Pickett - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:42 am:

    Why not try using a government outsourced service (private industry) on a trial basis for running one or two of our state prisons? It would show us if the private sector could more cost effectively run our state penal institutions. Other states have already checked into this and they are currently cost-effectively using these type of companies. Let’s take just one example: a firm called Corrections Corp. of America operates 66 correctional and detention facilities in nineteen states. Yep, 19 other states. It owns 45 facilities. Here is another bonus that I like (”icing on the cake”)–This firm often buys excess corrrectional facilities that the state governments no longer need.It gives the state governments a quick shot of cash and they no longer need to incur the expense of maintaining these “unneeded” prisons.

    In the past, we have always foregone looking into this idea because no Illinois politician was willing to challenge a government employee union and risk their future political career. Today, Illinois is in an economic crisis. We can no longer indulge these politically driven decisions. Who knows? We may find that these privately run prisons are not the way to go and that our Illinois state-run prisons are actually more economical for Illinois taxpayers pockets. However, quite a few of our neighboring states have found this “not to be the case”. They have found these private firms have been able to provide better, more inmate-friendly environments (which provide educational programs, etc.), and it is all done at a substantial savings for that state’s taxpayers.Private industry is not burdened down with bloated and expensive union pensions, lucrative benefits to state employees, prison job qualifications based on political patronage, etc.,etc.
    All I am suggesting is that Pat Quinn (or somebody (anybody!) (Republican or Democrat) from among our elected state officials should be looking into this potentially cost-effective means of helping to balance our state budget. Many of the other states have discovered that it is a Win /Win for their state’s citizens as well as their state’s incarcerated inmates.The concept should at least be considered, studied, and quickly put into action on a small trial basis in a couple of correctional facilities in Illinois. The Geo Group (headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida–phone 561-893-0101) and Corrections Corp. of America (headquarters in Nashville, TN–phone-615-263-3000) are but only two of these firms where Quinn could start. There are many other firms as well that can offer the services that we desire. The current economic reality for Illinois dictates that it is time to think “out of the box”.

  7. - RJW - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 9:42 am:


    That is just a dumb argument. It’s like saying: “I’m sorry that the roof in your office is caving in and the window is broken, but in these tough economic times we just can’t afford to do anything about it.” It’s called prioritization. Correctional institutions are in dire condition, physically and otherwise. You can’t just continue to ignore the problem.

  8. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 9:43 am:

    Sorry. That was me above. RJW is my alter ego. LOL.

  9. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    Yeah, what ghost said.

  10. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 10:18 am:

    The first thing that came to my mind was we need to reform our drug laws and not send non-violent drug offenders to prison. The war on drugs is a wasteful, ineffective, corrupt policy.

  11. - Gregor - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 10:44 am:

    This crowding is a pressure cooker waiting to blow. It has beem allowed to get worse because voters don’t care that crooks are warehoused in dungeon-like conditions, as long as they are off the streets. But the conditions in these prisons are a super-incubator for creating even worse criminals when tese men do eventually get out, and they will get out into a world with no safety net to help them transition to a legit life. These guys are being programmed to re-offend, and to do it on a grander scale than when they went in. People are going to die, inside the walls, and later, outside of them. We have to have a rational approach to corrections policy, and it has to be properly funded, along with the probation, education, and job-search programs to handle these men when they come out.

  12. - Lil Enchilada - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 10:46 am:

    I know a guy who gets to come home on weekends - while he’s doing time. He told me he’s making a ton of money doing work release and that he lives outside the prison. Is that how it really works or am I being stupid?

  13. - reformer - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    Enacting a new form of Meritorious Good Time would alleviate the crowding, the violence & the expense. That’s what the G.A. ought to do during Veto.

  14. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 12:57 pm:

    The issue with Illinois prison over-crowding is a US issue. The US leads the world’s nations (those that report numbers) for persons incarcerated. The only nation that even gets close to the US incarceration figures is Russia. (US is 743 per 100,000; Russia is 577 per 100,000.)Russia equaled or surpassed the US with prisoners per 100,000 when it was the USSR and operated the Gulag prison camp system. England, on the other hand, (including Wales) with which we share a common law tradition, incarcerates 150 per 100,000. And let’s not forget that 70% in US prisons are non-white. (data from Wikipedia)

    Seems like the US incarceration rate is more the result of failed social policy in non-white communities. Lousy public schooling, lousy policing, lousy housing and lousy lawyering.

  15. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    Here’s an idea ;),26173/

  16. - Ahoy - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 1:09 pm:

    1,800 isn’t bad, it’s nearly 13% of the entire city’s population… not shabby for getting started.

  17. - tired of press - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 1:15 pm:

    We wouldn’t face overcrowding if we managed our prison population better. That means 1) lowering recidivism by doing the opposite of what Menard does, 2) restoring MGT and 3) doing precisely what other states have done which was release some people using the existing laws of the land for good time.

    You may recall we tried to do just that in 2009. MGT Push let people out an average of 37 days earlier than they would have been without MGT Push. Can we handle that yet?

    If you want to lower recidivism, lower returns to prison, and reduce overcrowding, you can’t run the prisons this way.

  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    –That is just a dumb argument. –

    It’s not an argument, it’s an observation.

  19. - Gregor - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 1:39 pm:

    I seem to recall a story where a state outsourced a prison operation to a private company buy had to take it back because the company was a huge failure operationally. The legal liabilities in a state/private prison arrangement are also potentially very sticky.

    Finally, the penal system is not supposed to be a for-profit industry, it is supposed to be a reformatory system that changes offender behavior and returns better people than what went in. It’s a social cost serving a civic need. Private companies, responsive to shareholders, would concentrate on being efficient warehouse of human beings, but I doubt they would do much of anything for reforming criminals. They wouldn’t even make a pretense of it.

  20. - Colossus - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 2:28 pm:

    I would never, in any way, support an effort to give a private corporation the legal authority to incarcerate a citizen of the state of Illinois. This is precisely the kind of activity that governments are created to do, that which we don’t trust private groups to handle.

    Do you want Haliburton or Goldman Sachs involved in locking people up for years at a time? And before you think it coudnlt happen, ask yourself who is making the profit off Chicago’s parking deal.

  21. - amalia - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 5:51 pm:

    why is a key observation of the JHAssn. the racial makeup of the prison? demographic info, yes, key assessment, no. start putting in some information about calls for service and victims by race when you discuss offenders and the reason for the percentages becomes clear. it’s not a key finding of the prison system.

    MGood Time…..oh no, here we go, back to the 80s. Before Thompson admin officials started closing down juvy facilities to save money and convert to adult use, they also abused the rules with interpretations to let people out earlier than was permitted. this, of course, led to crimes that would not have been committed if the person were still incarcerated. and led to lawsuits against the Thompson admin which stopped the “interpretation” of the law.

    and once upon a time Minnesota had a grid which tied sentencing to prison population. so a rapist could get a lesser sentence if there was overcrowding. ugh. bad idea. need to figure out these ways of good time with great care.

    the drug sentenced inmates getting out is not necessarily the cure. remember, people go in based on the offense at hand and a criminal record, if any. things pile up. if there is a person convicted of a drug offense and they had a prior for an offense against person, things add up. it’s not as easy as many make it out to be. that said, anyone put in for possession of personal use marijuana without any other criminal record would be wrong. but how many of those are out there? not many.

  22. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 8:05 pm:

    WP: well, for one reason, because it’s illegal in Illinois

  23. - Mike - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 9:26 pm:

    Quinn needs to restart MGT now at least temporarily till he and the GA come up with something better. How many more deaths, injuries, and unnecessary illness do we need to be sued for?

  24. - bored with press - Wednesday, Oct 5, 11 @ 10:04 pm:

    amalia, your post is pretty much incomprehensible.

  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 6, 11 @ 8:11 am:

    if you balance your rosters you find help from within. This number is highly not alarming but a warning of things to come if not managed right.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* Question of the day
* Madigan on GOP: "They don't wanna talk about their record because they don't have a record"
* Lottery sells tickets even after all prizes have been claimed
* It's just a bill
* This isn't about "family heritage"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Because... Madigan!
* Don't believe everything you read
* Pritzker hopes to unload casino stake by December
* A Dock Walls, Jim Tobin gubernatorial ticket?
* Sun-Times makes "urgent appeal" for subscriptions, bashes Tribune
* *** UPDATED x1 *** "The family had a lot of buffers"
* Budget hype and budget facts
* Federal rules protecting net neutrality expire today! Support House Bill 4819
* *** UPDATED x1 - Brady: "It's not my firm" *** Rauner campaign paid Pat Brady's firm for consulting
* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner responds *** Chuy Garcia endorses Madigan for another term as party chairman
* The going gets weirder with McCann's entry
* Why did Reinking have those guns?
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...









* Michael Madigan Wins 6th Term as Head of Illino.....
* Editorial: Senate's turn to step up for true sp.....
* Madigan re-elected as Illinois Democratic Party.....
* Gov. Rauner's increasingly tough path to re-ele.....
* Michael Madigan Re-elected As Democratic Party .....
* Legislators request Rauner's plan for Veterans .....

* Illinois AG files harassment lawsuit against bus company
* APNewsBreak: Illinois' late fees skyrocket over past 3 years
* The Latest: Shooting suspect made claims about Taylor Swift
* The Latest: Democrats want gun law changes after shooting
* Waffle House slaying suspect arrested after massive manhunt
* Victims of Waffle House shooting include student, rapper
* The Latest: Illinois past-due fees since 2015 top $1B
* Waffle House shooter's guns were seized but then returned
* The Latest: Official: Father could face charges over guns
* Judge asked to reject pipeline protester's evidence request

* Illinois' late fees skyrocket over past 3 years
* Michael Madigan wins re-election as Democratic Party leader
* Champaign-area bus company faces harassment lawsuit
* State paying bills, but not late-payment interest
* Legislators push Rauner for Quincy veterans home improvement plan
* Michael Madigan expected to win re-election as Democratic Party leader
* Statehouse bills would increase drivers' awareness of bike safety
* Proposal would let more voters try to cut property taxes
* Illinois Lottery sells tickets for instant games after top prizes are gone
* Government consolidation efforts gain traction in General Assembly

* Esurance hikes auto rates again in Illinois as customers flee
* Aluminum drops most in 7 years after U.S. signals Russian sanctions relief
* With another $1 billion due, reality sets in at Sears

* Affordable housing advocates have reason to crow over SRO renovation
* Pet perks create happier workplaces for employees
* George HW Bush hospitalized with blood infection: spokesman
* Police: Woman offered to perform sex acts on undercover cop in exchange for cash
* Board of Ed to consider charter school changes to names, locations, managers
* Prince heirs sue Illinois hospital over care during overdose
* Teen charged with threatening gun violence against Naperville high school
* Rules and role changes make retired Bears Devin Hester, Matt Forte one of a kind
* The shameful silence of America’s CEOs
* Mystery on wheels: Cubs’ Ben Zobrist mum on whereabouts of World Series MVP car

* Massage therapist accuses Stan Lee of Marvel Comics of inappropriate sexual behavior in Chicago hotel
* Spokesman: George H.W. Bush hospitalized with blood infection
* Arson charges stand against Elgin woman accused of attempted murder
* Trumps, Macrons bond at Mount Vernon to kick off French president's state visit
* Waukegan residents, business owners complain about 'collateral damage' from PADS Lake County
* Remembering Davey Nelson and the call from WGN-AM 720 that changed his life
* Social media blamed for spike in West Aurora expulsions
* Pennsylvania golf club apologizes after calling cops on black members
* 4 men wounded in Austin shootings
* White Sox teammates encouraged by news on Danny Farquhar, man they have nicknamed 'Google'

» Madigan Elected For 6th Term As Democratic Party Chairman
» Illinois Case Argues Bullet Analysis Is ‘Basically A Guess’
» Mayor Rahm Emanuel Unveils Anti-Sexual Harassment With The Help Of A 'Friend' (Hint: David Schwimmer)
» Student Walkouts; Science And Business At Argonne; Back Pay For State Employees; Illinois Politics
» Illinois Legislators Have History Of Bringing Babies To Work
» How Parents Balance Privacy And Safety For Kids Online
» CPS Plays Matchmaker To Link Teachers With High-Need Schools
» Measure To Expand Online Sales Tax In Illinois Faces Hurdles
» At South Side Cemetery, A Gathering For Confederate Descendants – And Protesters
» Official: Pop Tax Repeal Could Mean Late Tax Bills, Budget Headaches

* Illinois' late fees skyrocket over past 3 years
* Michael Madigan wins re-election as Democratic Party leader
* Champaign-area bus company faces harassment lawsuit
* State paying bills, but not late-payment interest
* Legislators push Rauner for Quincy veterans home improvement plan
* Michael Madigan expected to win re-election as Democratic Party leader
* George Will: Gorsuch strikes blow against administrative state
* Statehouse bills would increase drivers' awareness of bike safety
* Proposal would let more voters try to cut property taxes
* Illinois Lottery sells tickets for instant games after top prizes are gone

* Attorney of ex-husband in Greitens case received $100,000 from unknown source
* 'I'm expensive, I’m not free,' says attorney of ex-husband in Greitens case
* Illinois' late fees skyrocket over past 3 years
* Scott board elections won't change
* Police investigating after 2 bodies found in O'Fallon home
* St. Mary's Hospital holding Earth Day prayer, blessing service
* Roanoke changes special-use permit process
* Women's Choice buys Planned Parenthood property
* Madison County man charged with 17 counts of child sex assault, sharing child porn
* Man pleads guilty to holding up Marion Circle K for $77 and 2 cartons of cigarettes

* Naperville man charged with threatening violence at Neuqua Valley
* Plea deal in works for Glen Ellyn kidnapping suspect
* Wild split with GM Chuck Fletcher after playoff exit
* No indoor amusement center, but U-46 interested in Elgin property
* Carroll: Seahawks still open to considering Colin Kaepernick

* House approves Curbelo, Hultgren bill prot...
* Bustos pushes to make 'blue wave' happen i...
* This RSS feed URL is deprecated
* Rep. Randy Hultgren recognizes Loyola men'...
* US Rep. Randy Hultgren visits McHenry's Pi...
* Are Illinois Congressmen safe in wake of D...
* It's official: If you prepaid your propert...
* A quick look at a few congressional races ...
* Underwood hopes winning primary formula ca...
* Group of Nearly 100 Iranians Stuck in Vien...

* Senators Cling to a Fading Custom Trump's ......
* Sen. Durbin warns educators of risks of fo......
* County official: Anti-poverty services wou......
* Booker, Durbin, Krishnamoorthi Introduce H......
* Durbin, Duckworth demand accounting of All......

* I'm a legislator and a mom. Tammy Duckwort......
* Tammy Duckworth is uniquely privileged, bu......
* Tammy Duckworth makes fertility after 50 l......
* Few mothers could do what Tammy Duckworth ......
* What Tammy Duckworth really just taught us...

* Let the pictures do the talking: Hank Willis Thomas deconstructs the ad game at the Block Museum
* Signs Of Spring
* Oakland’s Once & Future Band stage a battle between obnoxious prog and massive hooks
* The Militarization of Police: When Tyranny Comes Home
* Dog Day brings out the best (in show) to Guaranteed Rate Field [PHOTOS]
* McHenry County township consolidation bill likely to reach governor's desk
* Woman Missing From Buena Park
* Record Store Day 2018: here's what Chicago area shops are doing to celebrate
* When the blues electrified Chicago
* How we got all those pot leaves for our #420Day issue

* IEMA Highlights Role of Volunteers in Disasters
* Governor Rauner activates State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield
* February Flooding Information
* IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather
* Governor issues state disaster proclamation for flooding in Iroquois, Kankakee, Vermilion Counties

* Apple Shares New Videos Promoting Apple Pencil Support on 2018 iPad
* Department of Defense's updated cloud-computing contract still is winner-take-all
* LG G7 renders leak ahead of press event
* In a world first, a US veteran now has a new penis and scrotum
* Alphabet records 26 percent rise in revenues for Q1 2018
* Leak shows every side of LG’s G7 ThinQ
* Another new YouTube policy is prompting multi-channel networks to drop smaller creators

* Farquhar 'progressing well' after surgery
* Beck’s back!
* Farquhar 'progressing well' after surgery
* White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 3
* White Sox place Gonzalez (shoulder) on DL
* Beck’s back!
* White Sox place Gonzalez (shoulder) on DL

Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller