November 12, 2014
What was once referred to as the ‘Country Club” of Illinois’s prison system is taking on a whole new class of membership.
Vienna Correctional Center, a minimum-security prison near Vienna, Illinois, had an inmate assault an correctional officer this afternoon.
According to an Illinois Department of Corrections’ spokesman, “There was an assault on an officer late this afternoon (11/12/14) at Vienna Correctional Center (VCC), which eventually involved four officers.”
Today’s inmate-on-officer assault is the third in the past decade, according to spokesman.
A late Wednesday afternoon email from IDOC to The Vienna Times stated, “One inmate was involved. The incident occurred outside, near Unit 4, during line movement to evening meal.
“The inmate had refused a direct order of a correctional officer and was thus required to have handcuffs placed on him. During the ‘cuff up’ process, the offender resisted and struck the officer in the face. A second officer was hurt trying to break up the altercation and two Lieutenants, while administering O.C. (pepper) spray, had the spray drift onto them when the wind blew in their direction,”
Pepper spray, while strong enough to subdue an offender, is a non-chemical, vegetable-based substance.
IDOC has not released the names of individuals involved in the incident.
A preliminary report for IDOC indicates:
Officer #1 (minor cuts and bruises) was driven home by family; will likely miss at least a day of work.
Officer #2 (significant wrist injury) was driven to the hospital by a friend; will definitely miss days of work.
Lieutenant #1 was treated in the Health Care Unit for removal of O.C. spray from face/eyes. Remained on current shift. No problems.
Lieutenant #2 was treated in the Health Care Unit for removal of O.C. spray from face/eyes. Remained on current shift. No problems.
Vienna Correctional Center is a minimum-security prison with an inmate population of 1,661 and another 238 at its Dixon Springs Work Camp. The total of 1,899 is below the combined operational capacity of 1,982. There have been only three incidents of striking an officer in the past 10-plus years at VCC, during which approximately 9,000 inmates have passed through the prison. Again, that is three incidents of striking an officer in more than a decade, with 9,000 inmates spending time in VCC proper.
The offender has been transferred to a higher security level: medium-security Shawnee Correctional Center, where he is now in a segregation cell as a staff assaulter. Vienna Correctional Center is currently on Level 4 lockdown (next-to-lightest level).
Since the 2012 closing of the Tamms’ ‘Super-Max’ prison, under the leadership of lame-duck Illinois governor Pat Quinn, Vienna and Shawnee Correctional Centers in Southern Illinois, like most other state run prisons, now have a different class of inmates.
Most of Tamms’ segregated and general-population inmates where transferred to other maximum or medium security facilities across the state.
Medium and minimum-security prisons, like Shawnee and Vienna, are now challenged with a different level of inmates that have been security-downgraded because of the Tamms’ shutdown.
State legislators, as well as legislators-elect, have called on Bruce Rauner, Illinois Governor-elect, to reopen Tamms as soon as possible.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) said, “I am hopeful that our new governor will work in a bi-partisan manner to find a way to re-open the Tamms Correctional Center, which was one of the few facilities in the state that is able to house the most disruptive, violent and problematic offenders. This decision to close the facility in 2012 put several dozen Southern Illinoisans in the unemployment line.
The new governor should look at my previously proposed plan, where the prison could be retooled to become more of a standard prison. This would have save much-needed jobs and help to address the overcrowding within our state’s prisons. I believe that the former governor did not realize the huge mistake he made by closing these facilities. His bad decision has damaged our local economy and has made life even more difficult for many families who are already struggling to make ends meet. We need to collectively come together as Southern Illinois residents and let our voices be heard that these facilities need to be re-opened.
I plan to work in a bi-partisan manner with all my colleagues in the House and Senate to work with our new governor to get this done. We should waste no time in making sure our voices are heard.”