Resource questions raised after Illinois prison guards attacked - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Resource questions raised after Illinois prison guards attacked

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Tom Shaer, Director of Communications for the Illinois Department of Corrections (Source: Tom Shaer) Tom Shaer, Director of Communications for the Illinois Department of Corrections (Source: Tom Shaer)
Marsha Griffin, Founder 'My Brother's Keeper." (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS) Marsha Griffin, Founder 'My Brother's Keeper." (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
CHESTER, IL (KFVS) - An attack on officers at a prison in Chester, Illinois is raising questions about resources in correctional facilities in Illinois. 

Three officers were injured in a planned attack in the cafeteria at Menard Correctional Facility in Chester on July 3.

The most recent incident where an officer was attacked happened more than 3-months-ago according to Tom Shaer, Director of Communications for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).

"We have a very aggressive investigations and intelligence division," Shaer said. "We sniff out problems before they become problems. But, it's impossible to prevent every incident."

For Marsha Griffin, a school teacher and wife of a corrections officer, she says she shouldn't have to fear for the safety of her husband. So, Griffin founded "My Brother's Keeper," an organization that invites corrections officers and their families to voice their concerns on issues involving Illinois correctional facilities.  

She founded the group after seeing a graphic image of an officer who was attacked in Pontiac, Illinois.

"I couldn't erase it from my mind. You can't reduce these employees down to just numbers on a spreadsheet," Griffin said. "They're real people. They're mommies and daddies and they may not come home from their shifts if policy changes aren't… implemented."

Griffin has started a petition to reopen Tamms Correctional Center. A move that she says will reduce attacks like the one at Menard.

"I believe the voices of front lines employees," Griffin said.  "And I’m hearing from them, all over the state of Illinois."

Griffin wants her movement to be a collaborative effort between her organization and the state. But, she makes a point that she is an advocate for employees working with inmates, Griffin said.

"I believe everything these front line employees are telling me, Griffin said. "I think it’s easy to manipulate data in an office, but walk the halls with the workers and I think you’ll find the real story."

"My Brother's Keeper," is hosting a rally to raise awareness about attacks on correctional officer employees on Saturday, July 12 at 2 p.m. at the Shawnee and Vienna Correctional Centers in Southern Illinois.

Attacks on corrections officers that work in prisons across the state is down from last year, according to Shaer.

"ANY physical contact by inmates is absolutely unacceptable," Shaer wrote in a statement.

IDOC is currently investigating the incident. The department will pursue criminal charges against the two inmates involved. The results of the investigation will most likely result in the extension of their sentences, Shaer said.

Of the five officers that responded to the incident, three were injured. One officer suffered a cracked rib, another a broken knuckle, and another a broken pinky. The officer who suffered the cracked rib returned to work the next day.

This information comes from interviews with 38 inmates who witnessed the incident, five corrections officers who responded, and three inmates who were involved.

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