Unions: Prison staff pat-downs are retaliation
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois authorities conducted a “mass shakedown” of guards and other prison employees last week, taking the unusual step of searching workers as they left correctional facilities and sparking allegations of reprisal for public complaints and leaked information to the news media, according to interviews and a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
An email written by a Department of Corrections administrator was sent to 10 southern Illinois prison wardens, telling them to conduct the shakedowns, July 19. It was time stamped just 18 minutes after about a dozen workers began a public forum in the state Capitol to complain about conditions at Illinois prisons.
Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano declined comment Monday on the email obtained by the AP. She previously would not confirm that the searches were coordinated, but said such searches are a “routine security measure” to control banned materials, which range from cellphones to weapons. The dustup over the pat-downs comes as Gov. Pat Quinn pushes a cost-cutting plan to shutter several state correctional facilities, including next month’s scheduled closure of the supermax prison in Tamms. Prison workers have fiercely resisted that idea, fearing increased violence if isolated gang members are moved elsewhere.
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