SPRINGFIELD - Officials locked down one of the state's maximum-security prisons Friday morning, but not because of an outbreak of violence.

Rather, the movement of prisoners at the Stateville Correctional Center was limited from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. because a significant number of prison guards called in sick.

It was not clear Friday why there were so many absences, but Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said it was "unusual" that 58 workers were unable to report for their shift.

"The department made every effort but was unable to fill the posts necessary to continue normal operations," Solano said. "The facility was therefore placed on level 4 lockdown in order to ensure the continued safe and secure operation of the prison."

The incident came a week after more than 100 Stateville prisoners were reportedly bed-ridden by norovirus, a highly contagious flu that apparently spread through the Crest Hill facility.

It also came a day after hundreds of correctional officers and state retirees had rallied in the Capitol against possible cuts to their pensions.

The rally was just the latest large lobbying effort by a coalition of labor unions who are fighting Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly over possible reductions to their retirement benefits.

Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union which represents correctional officers at the prison, said any member who participated in the rally did so on a scheduled day off or had prior approval to leave.

Lindall also noted that the union has recently raised concerns about the flu outbreak.

"If illness may be the cause we don't know," Lindall said in a text message Friday evening.

Prisons are typically placed on lockdown after violence erupts among inmates. The medium-security prison in Pinckneyville was locked down Thursday, for example, after an inmate assaulted a guard.

Illinois prisons are operating with what one watchdog group says are critically low staffing levels at a time when the inmate population has mushroomed because of Quinn's decision to end an early inmate release program.

In a 2011 report by the John Howard Association, independent monitors found that Stateville employees were having to leave their duties in the prison to help process new inmates at the state's northern intake facility on the prison grounds.

"This leaves Stateville with only a minimal, skeletal staff, therein limiting its operations and inmate movement to what is basic and essential, which can interfere with inmates' ability access to the infirmary, yard, commissary, clinics, and the library," the report noted.

At Stateville, Friday's lockdown was short lived.

The prison resumed normal operations at 3 p.m. when enough staff showed up to work, Solano said.

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(15) comments

wswsr

Cowards. Fire them for stealing, getting paid for sick when they're not. Lying to employer

small town

So you are saying state employees are not allowed to use sick time and when they do you want to label them as thieves,liars,and cowards.(Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, coughs, and low-grade fever may occur) I'm sure you would rather have staff at work with these conditions spreading it even more.

Market Street Lover

wswsr, How can you tag these employees for stealing by lying to their employer. They wouldn't be doing this, if the politicans hadn't stole from their pension fund and lied to them for the past 20 years. I am sure your pension fund is solvent and not dependent on the idiot theives in Springfield.

my2cents

Did they call in sick or use a personal day? Big difference!

patriot6

Ummm small town good for you in supporting them, but if you have worked a day in IDOC you know this many people never call in sick and they did it in protest. Problem, it is stealing they should thank every tax payer for the day.

small town

Ummm patriot6 sick time is earned and can be used by the employee I can't blame them for calling in. They cannot hold on to sick time this is one of the benefits the state took away from the employees years ago in contract negotiations.The state created this monster of use it or lose it with sick time.But if you were in their situation such a true blue flag waving all american patriot you would never use any benefit time in your career and gladly return it to the state upon retirement. This type of rationalization is equal to you placing money into a bank then when you make a withdraw you are arrested for stealing.

Corrections9

To you people criticizing the Correctional Officers who called in sick should try walking a beat in their shoes for a few days. We sign up know of the dangers we might face on any given day. We accept that as part of the job. We have our own way of handling with the true cowards. But for the past 10 years, the team Blagovich and Quinn have been attacking us relentlessly. Threatening to close down one prison after another in order to get contract concessions. Then Quinn has raised what what we pay for insurance and how much we pay into our retirement. All reducing our take home pay. In the meantime he has given his staff and other select people huge raises including himself. He is the second highest paid governor in America. For decades governors and the general assembly have been stealing from our pension fund to fund other un-funded entitlement programs. Now Quinn wants us to balance the budget on our back. Almost two years ago Quinn negotiated pay raises with the union. When it came time to pay, he said he didn't have the money to pay us even though some agencies did get their raises. So, actually, who is stealing from who? You can only kick a docile dog in the nuts so many times before it starts to fight and bite back. If you want to call us thieves for calling in, that's your opinion and you know what they say about opinions? So don't judge us until you have walked a beat in our shoes and been screwed over for as long as we have. Don't use that sorry line of if you don't like it find a new job. After all, have you looked at the job market lately. Between Obama and Quinn economic plans there aren't a lot of opportunities out there.

ct

We can't. The union locks us out.

There are PLENTY of people who would love a IL corrections job with the pay and benefits that come with it.

yosemite sam

That's a big fat lie, ct. The union cannot and will not lock you out.
As far as getting a job in IDOC....apply!!! we have openings all the time., so your second sentence is full of dung also.

A Fella

AFSCME is a joke. Of course it will deny any knowledge of this, claim its just happenstance. The union members spend too much time around the inmates, they act just like them, taking advantage of everything they can. the minute these inmates realize why they were locked down they will start filing suits (just like the union does) because they weren't adequately protected and supervised to the point that they had to be placed in a restrictive non disciplinary condition without due process of the law blah blah blah..... this is how inmates, and the union both think. The staff who called in should all be suspended at a minimum. They put the staff who actually do their job at risk by playing this game, and it is a game to them. They whine about solidarity, but none of them care about anything more than big checks to be babysitter. Solidarity would have been everybody banding together offering to spread the cost of keeping the facilities that are being shut down open by taking an across the board pay cut, but oh no, gotta fight to get more more more. Privatization is the only solutions since the union is as corrupt as the state of Illinois.

ct

If the prison can operate without the 58 guards, sounds like it is time to reduce staff by 58 employees.

That should put a halt to the shenanigans.....
This state has plenty of people who want to work.

otis1949

union trash or the flu you be the judge

innocent1

BRAVO STATE EMPLOYEES, NOW LETS CHEER THE STATE IN MAKI0NG NECESSARY CHANGES THAT IT NEEDS TO RID OF SO MANY PRISONERS, MOST OF WHOM HAVE PETTY CRIMES. IT IS A RACKET THAT IS COSTING TAX PAYERS MONEY. ALL THE WHILE MAKING MONEY FOR THE STATE TO UTILIZE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS THE LARGEST NUMBER OF PRISONERS, MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY. RID OF THE EMPLOYEES OF THEIR JOBS IF THEY HAVE STOLE FROM THE STATE. MOST IMPORTANT RID OF ALL THE PRISONERS IF OF PETTY CRIMES. IT IS TIME I'LL GET ON THE SAME TRACK AS OTHER STATES IN AMERICA. REFORM IS NEEDED HERE. IF AN EMPLOYEE WAS TRULY SICK THAN THEY CAN NOT BE PENALIZED FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY CAN NOT HELP BUT THIS OPENS THE DOOR FOR SOME REFORM FOLKS. HOW I WISH I WERE 20 YEARS YOUNGER. I WOULD BE FIGHTING FOR SOME CHANGES ACROSS THE BOARD.

Jose
Jose

You needn't wish for the impossible, innocent1 -- as long as you are capable of posting online or having an opinion, you CAN still fight for what you believe.

Anything less is just excuses to "NOT DO".

innocent1

YOU ARE CORRECT JOSE, YOU ARE RIGHT ON THAT ONE..THEY CAN STOP YOU FROM TALKING THOUGH. I HAVE LIVED IT IN THE VERY COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN AND THE SAME STATE AND THIS IS WHY I GOT OUT OF THERE. THEY WILL GO TO NO EXTENT FROM ASSAULTS TO ATTACKING CHILDREN AND FAMILY MEMBERS. YES, I AM WRITING A BOOK, IN DETAIL.

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