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Prison Violence Close to Home
We've never been able to get her on-camera, but Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson Stacey Solano released the following statement about the fight at
Logan Correctional Center on Tuesday.
"There was an inmate fight at Logan CC Tuesday involving a number of inmates at the facility. IDOC staff are well trained and were able to quickly respond and bring the incident under control. No staff were assaulted inmates involved received only minor injuries. Inmate fights are not unique to Illinois and occur in correctional systems across the nation. The department is investigating this incident and will continue to place the safety and security of its staff and inmates as the top priority."
Prison employees question the state's dedication to safety. Behind the walls at places like Logan Correctional Center, trouble is brewing. The people who see it from the inside hope it will be stopped before the problems bubble over to the outside.
Shannon Kelly is President of AFSCME Local 2073, and he's worked at Logan for 18 years.
"They're not at prison for selling too many Girl Scout cookies," he said. "They're in prison because they committed offense against the state of Illinois."
An attack by one inmate at Logan Correctional Center injured four employees in late January. Two had concussions. Now nearly 30 inmates at the same prison are being punished for their involvement in that fight on Tuesday.
"The reason that we have this facility is to keep everybody safe--the guards and the prisoners--and when we fail at that then we need to look at changes that we can make," Republican state Rep. Rich Brauer said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the line agree something has to be done now.
"I think we would be naive to think that some of the closures that have happened in recent months don't have a negative impact on this system as a whole," Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar said.
Simply adding more guards to the mix will help, but it won't solve the problem. Offenders who would've gone to places like Tamms--now closed--are ending up in other prisons closer to our homes.
"They've been housed at Logan as boot camp offenders, and our staff aren't trained as boot camp staff," Kelly said.
Those inmates, guards say, caused the most recent fight at Logan.
"It's important that we maintain the safety within our prison system," Brauer said. "And with our cutbacks with closing of Tamms, that certainly is a result of what we're seeing today."
Manar agreed and said this problem comes down to managing the Department of Corrections and making sure the state's budget reflects that department's needs.