By Mike Kolb
Employees of Vienna Correctional Facility picketed outside the prison Monday afternoon to make a stand for safety and morale. Union president Mike Turner explained, “This is about staff safety and morale.”
The inciting incident that drove the union to make a public stand occurred a few weeks ago. An inmate at the facility threatened a member of the line staff with physical bodily harm. In a correctional institution such statements are not taken idly.
The inmate was removed from general population and placed in segregation until a disciplinary board could convene. It was the board’s recommendation to have the prisoner moved to another facility.
Despite this recommendation one of the facility’s chief administrators had an off-record discussion with the inmate. The inmate verbally promised that he would not make any more threats and was released back into general population.
Turner went on describe other issues at the prison. “We’re really tired of the lies.”
Vienna Correctional Facility is a minimum-security facility. Inmates held there are Class A, the model inmate, or Class B, an inmate that has had only a minor infraction. Class C inmates, or inmates that have perpetrated a major infraction, are moved to a maximum-security facility.
Inmates that have been downgraded to Class C are immediately moved to another facility. However, there have been instances of inmates returning to Class B status until the prison’s bus schedule allows for transport to another facility. Then the inmate will once again be classified as Class C status.
“Springfield has been down here and investigated what’s going on. We’re hopeful for the future,” Turner explained. “I can’t give exact numbers, but between Dixon Springs and Vienna we’re short staffed by at least 30 positions.” Being understaffed just adds to the safety concerns.