Letter to the Newspaper by Reader

Posted: August 15, 2010 by parchangelo in IDOC

This is a letter-to-the-editor submitted by a reader to the Vandalia Leader-Union newspaper in Vandalia, IL. It contains information about current conditions at the IDOC Vandalia Correctional Center (and similar conditions probably exist at other older IDOC prisons) which we should all be aware of and concerned about. Let’s hope the Leader-Union is responsible enough to investigate it and report to the public.

There are some quite concerning stories a family member of mine has passed along to me regarding living conditions, breaks in the system, and other practices at the Vandalia Correctional Center.  These activities really demonstrate how with the state’s suspension of Good Time and funding have stretched Vandalia Correctional Center to its limits.  Considering resources are not being spent to REHABILITATE individuals but just maintaining, this only fosters an environment of despair, anger, and TENSION which will only lead to violence.  This will all inevitably never fix the revolving door of inmates in and out of prison.

1. The Most shocking … inmates are being crowded into basement dorms where there is only ONE fire exit with 90-100 men in the basement.  Correctional Officers and inmates have both mentioned that it is extremely UNSAFE to have so many people in such a small place with only one exit.  I do not know what the building codes for Fire Exits are in Fayette County, but this has to be unsafe.

2. Lead based paint, asbestos, black mold, structural integrity questions, and other living conditions are common in the old portion on the hill.  I am not sure, but have heard that some of the dorms have been condemned but are continuing to be used.  Does IDOC have to follow OSHA and Illinois EPA/OSHA rules?  Inmates are still people and exposures to certain things while in IDOC would make them liable for any health concerns in the future.

3.  With recent hot temperatures and high humidity, inmates in the old portion have been required to stay inside with NO air conditioning.  This may not sound too bad, but when there are 100-200 people per dorm with only two industrial fans it can get extremely uncomfortable.  Like most people, inmates get cranky, start fights, and the tension levels increase when the temperatures get as hot as they have been which is a security issue to inmates and guards.  Inmates are not allowed to go into the yard when there is a National Weather Service Heat Warning because its too hot, but inside its most likely around 90 degrees inside.  Inmates have limited access to ice as they are provided only small amounts and water fountains in the dorms can not keep up with the demand for cold water.

4.  Capacity:  Vandalia is over-over crowded with more people on the way.  Look into the exact number the prison should be holding as compared to the actual.  It will stun you.

5. Because Vandalia is overcrowded with more and more guys coming weekly, guards are now being stretched to fill the gaps.  They are working double shifts and making time and a half.  The state (which is already in a fiscal hole) is making the financial problem worse while putting guards under more stress which only exacerbates their stress levels and makes it more tense for the environment.

There are many other things I have heard from the VCC.  This is a story of how the state has policies causing prisons to literally implode on themselves.  These stories of mismanagement affect both the guards and the inmates, their security and their futures.  People of Illinois need to hear this as a prime example of how bad the state has run its institutions as it directly impacts its employees and the individuals they are supposed to rehabilitate.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Thank you, T.H. (concerned citizen)

  1. […] Letter to the Newspaper by Reader « RichardWanke.Com […]


  2. TAB says:

    I just left VCC Work Camp n its horrible there also. I think this is horrible, punishing the inmates because of a mistake the director made, he should be punished not the inmates. Now they are sayn they might start the good time up in the spring by then he will be home after 18 months when his lawyer told me 1 yr. This is bull!


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