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Gacy unshackled in prison, inmates charge

MENARD, Ill. -- Condemned mass murderer John Wayne Gacy has free run of his death row cellhouse, a color TV in his cell and is allowed to carry sharp tools, 20 of his fellow inmates charge.

The inmates, who have been convicted of 48 murders among them, said they live in fear they may become 'Gacy's future victims.'

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But prison authorities said Gacy is not allowed any more freedom than other Menard Correctional Center death row inmates with good prison records and he is allowed to use the tools for maintenance work 'because he has been no problem.'

The 20 inmates have signed a rambling, two-page petition in which they also complained about special privileges enjoyed by the convicted mass murderer of 33 young men and boys.

The convicts charged Gacy is allowed to roam freely in the Death Row unit, a separate cellhouse at Menard.

They said he often carries two putty knives, both sharpened, one 3 inches wide and the other 6 inches wide. They also charged he enters the unit's visiting room at will, without the handcuffs other inmates must wear and often carrying a tool.

The inmates said they fear for their wives and families when Gacy comes in and out of the visiting room unshackled and they complained Gacy received telephone privileges, has a color TV, a radio and a fan in his cell.

Corrections Department spokesman Nick Howell said Gacy is allowed out of his cell only for work, and said Gacy has not been a problem for prison authorities.

Howell said Gacy is allowed to do maintenance work involving the use of tools 'because he has been no problem in prison and because of his experience as a contractor.'

'Gacy has a job assignment because his behavior warrants it. It is that simple,' he said.

'A few months ago, some of the inmates tore up the visiting room pretty good,' Howell added. 'Gacy went in and cleaned that stuff up. That is an area we do not want to send other (non-condemned) inmates into and we don't like to send tradesmen in there either.

'Gacy's job is to clean up the cellhouse. Basically he pushes a broom.'

Gacy pleaded insanity and never denied killing the 33 victims, 26 of whom were found in a crawl space beneath his suburban Chicago home. Three others were found beneath his concrete driveway and four were discovered in the Des Plaines River.

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