State News
6:54 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Employees from Dwight prison start new jobs

IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports:

Illinois' Pontiac, Sheridan and Stateville prisons will have more guards on rotation. The Departments of Corrections says most of the employees who had been working at the Dwight correctional center start their new jobs today Monday. An additional 148 employees will join Pontiac's prison staff:

"It's going to be a very welcome addition.  something we've hoped for for a very long time.”

That's Pontiac's Warden, Randy Pfister.

Prison guard Frank Turner says he has been waiting since Governor Pat Quinn closed the Tamm's prison in deep southern Illinois, and sent those "worst-of-the-worst" inmates to Pontiac. That happened back in August and December. Turner - who heads the local AFSCME union - said he was promised Pontiac would get more guards then. Instead, he says, they've had to work overtime.

"If you've got an individual that's worked 16 hour shifts three or four days in a row, he's going to be tired, he's not  going to be as receptive, you know, to his surroundings, you know, and it puts other people in danger.  Because if he's not paying attention something could have happened that he could have averted if he was alert," says Turner.

Pontiac's warden says the Tamms inmates have caused no violence since arriving.  But AFSCME says overcrowding remains an issue.