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Guards picket Ill. prison closure

Feb. 6, 2013 at 8:24 AM

MENARD, Ill., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Corrections officers in Illinois are picketing against cost-cutting measures they say led to inmate violence, including an attack on three guards this week.

Hundreds of employees of Menard Correctional Center and Chester Mental Health Center began picketing Tuesday in opposition to Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to shut down the state's only super-maximum facility, the Tamms Correctional Center in Tamms, in late December, among other cost-cutting measures, The (Carbondale) Southern reported.

Eddie Caumian, regional director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 31 said since the closure, Menard is housing 3,700 inmates with fewer than 200 employees per shift in a facility meant for only 2,000 inmates.

"Any time you cram this many people into a confined space and try to do it with as few staff as possible to help control that situation you are asking for trouble, so certainly no, I don't think it is coincidental that we are seeing incidences of violence that are spiraling out of control as we continue to put more and more people into prisons that can't hold them," Caumian said.

The picketing was formed the same day 12 inmates attacked a guard in the prison's chapel, and two others -- including the chaplain -- were injured when they came to the first guard's aid.

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