CHESTER, IL (KFVS) - A 20-year veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections was named Warden of Menard Correctional Center on Wednesday, April 16.
Kim Butler is the first woman ever to serve as warden of maximum-security MCC. Her appointment was announced by IDOC Director Salvador A. "Tony" Godinez.
"Kim is an outstanding professional with an excellent record of performance at all levels of corrections," Director Godinez said. "With such a varied list of accomplishments, she has earned this new assignment, and I have full confidence in her ability to continue the fine work being done at Menard Correctional Center."
People who live near the prison in Chester say they're glad a woman has stepped in to fill this position.
"It's just not a man's world, it's both and if she can handle her own and thinks she can handle it, more power to her," Buffy Uhl said.
A graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where she majored in Administration of Justice with a double minor in Criminal Justice and Psychology, Warden Butler joined IDOC as a correctional counselor. She later worked as a correctional officer, Bureau of Identification supervisor, hostage negotiator, casework supervisor and clinical services supervisor. She has worked in minimum, medium and maximum-security prisons.
Warden Butler has been has been assistant warden of programs at MCC since 2012. She is a veteran of the first Gulf War and a lifelong member of the VFW. Her volunteer work includes the American Red Cross, with assistance after recent natural disasters in and near Randolph County.
"At all times, my first and foremost thoughts are of staff safety and the well-being of everyone at Menard," said Warden Butler. "Running Menard is one of the biggest challenges I have had in my life. At any prison, each day presents new matters to deal with and the great officers, sergeants, lieutenants, majors and staff help us meet any challenge. We've been successful in running a safe and secure facility, and I have no doubt that will continue, thanks to this team."
Warden Butler succeeds the retiring Rick Harrington, who capped a 20-year career with IDOC by running Menard for 17 months, including the past year in which MCC has had only four security-related full Level 1 Lockdowns. There has not been a homemade weapon involved in any incident at Menard in two years. Serious assault of all types in Illinois prisons is down 35 percent for the most recent year-long measuring period.
"The Illinois Department of Corrections thanks Rick Harrington for his two decades of service, especially his stellar performance during the past twelve months of tremendous improvement at Menard Correctional Center. Safety and security have never been better than during this time," said Director Godinez.
Continuing at MCC are Assistant Warden of Operations Alex Jones and Assistant Warden of Programs Jacqueline Lashbrook. There are 646 staff members at Menard, including 422 officers, sergeants, lieutenants and majors. The prison houses 3,733 inmates in its maximum and medium- security units.
Kim Butler is the second woman to be appointed warden of an all-male, maximum security prison in Illinois history. Both appointments were made by Director Godinez. There are currently 22 women among the four wardens and 17 assistant wardens in IDOC.
"The job of any warden, especially at a maximum-security facility, is so important because of the very nature of offenders and prison life. Kim Butler has the extensive, valuable experience and essential qualities to do the job very well," added Director Godinez.