* Last month, it was the Department of Human Services threatening a reporter with prosecution. This month, it’s the Department of Corrections…
A story last week identified some of the dangerous prisoners Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration is considering shipping out of the state when he closes the supermax prison in Tamms.
Information identifying those particular inmates came from within the prison. And, top brass at the Illinois Department of Corrections really don’t like whistleblowers.
For example, IDOC officials recently pursued two employees who had provided information to The Associated Press regarding the agency’s ill-fated early prisoner release program. The two whistleblowers retired before they could be purged by the secretive agency.
Hoping to tamp down last week’s news about outsourcing prisoners, Jerry Buscher, executive chief at IDOC, sent a letter to the Lee Springfield Bureau, suggesting that if the names of the inmates being considered for out-of-state placement were printed, guards and inmates could be in danger.
“If you proceed to disclose any information in your possession on this subject beyond yourself, the department will view your actions as attempting to promote disorder within the prison system,” Buscher wrote.
The union representing guards and other prison employees, however, had no problem with the publication of the inmates’ names.
Thankfully, the threats didn’t kill the story.
* AFSCME is also claiming intimidation at the prisons…
Illinois authorities took the unusual step of searching guards and other prison employees for contraband as they left at least seven facilities last week, sparking worker allegations that the checks may have been reprisals for complaints about overcrowding and understaffing and inside information leaked to the news media, workers and union officials told The Associated Press. […]
The searches began just days after prison workers complained publicly in Springfield about prison conditions and followed a newspaper report about where some displaced Tamms inmates would go. That report was based on an internal Corrections document.
The employees’ union said such searches are rare and may constitute “retaliatory harassment,” which the Corrections agency denied. […]
Illinois Department of Corrections policy allows searches of employees at any time - beginning, during or ending a shift - to ensure they are not carrying banned materials, from magazines and cigarettes to illegal drugs and weapons.
But Kim Larson, an accountant at the Danville prison for 12 years, said she never received a pat down before when she left her 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift.
* Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn has made some changes at DHS. From a press release…
Governor Pat Quinn has announced the appointment of Michael McCotter as Special Investigator of the Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). McCotter, a 40-year law enforcement veteran, will be charged with reforming the investigative operations of the Inspector General’s office. Governor Quinn also named Daniel Dyslin as Acting Inspector General for DHS until a permanent replacement is named. Today’s actions follow an executive order issued by the governor earlier this month to strengthen protections for adults with disabilities.
* Quinn’s office claims $57M in savings
* AFSCME challenges transfers from JDC: Another 23 residents are expected to be moved out of the Jacksonville Developmental Center by Wednesday, including two who will be transferred to a community-based home where employees previously were found negligent by the inspector general for the Department of Human Resources.
* DHS ends contract with Chicago mental health center: Dr. Carl Bell, the center’s head and part-time professor of clinical psychology and public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, blames the center’s fiscal problems on the state’s woes. He notes Illinois began slowing payments two years ago. He says as a result, the center he founded in 1975 has lost seven psychiatrists, in addition to therapists and case managers.