Archive for the ‘IDOC’ Category


http://wglt.org/…/suspect-convictions-episode-4-true-crime-…

Suspect Convictions Episode 4: True-Crime Experts Give Case Fresh Look

  6 HOURS AGO

The alternative suspect in this case, Misook Wang, has a post-conviction petition in court herself alleging innocence for a murder she allegedly confessed to police about at the time. She’ll be in court in Bloomington, IL next week on Monday, November 20, 2017. There is sure to be a lot of court watchers present on behalf of Barton McNeil and others. You can read police interviews with Misook on freebart.org. Aphrodite Jones is correct in this episode. Misook by action and in interview comes across as very intense and unaware that her behavior and words are strange and off-balance.

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ROCKFORD — “It’s breathtaking. Oh my goodness,” a Rockford man said after emerging from the Winnebago County Jail into the sunshine this afternoon after more than 23 years behind bars for a murder he and his supporters maintain he didn’t commit.John Horton Jr., 40, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Arthur Castaneda in Rockford. Horton was 17 years old when Castaneda was fatally shot during a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant, located at that time at 2715 Charles St. He was sentenced

Source: John Horton of Rockford free after more than 2 decades in prison


https://www.aclu.org/issues/mass-incarceration/privatization-criminal-justice/private-prisons


Governor Pat Quinn is beginning to face serious criticism for inaction regarding prison overcrowding and prison violence is escalating. So, Quinn is now claiming IDOC is implementing the new sentence credits as a way to reduce overcrowding. Yet, when Quinn first said this yesterday, an IDOC spokesperson indicated it had no firm timeline for implementation of the early release. Today, this is corrected below with Quinn and IDOC stating the first 12 inmates have been selected and will be released next month. It is too bad that it seems to require a surge in prison violence and public criticism rather than humanitarian motivation to get the Governor to move on  this important issue:

Prison officials ready to launch early inmate release program

4 hours ago  •  Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD — State officials said Friday they are finally launching an early prisoner release program that could reduce some of the overcrowding within the prison system and, possibly, reduce some of the violence going on behind bars.

The first of 12 inmates who have been deemed eligible for the program could hit the streets in the coming month as the Illinois Department of Corrections reviews prisoner files to determine who might qualify.

“The new program will allow the department to, after comprehensive review, award up to 180 days of sentence credit to statutorily eligible offenders who demonstrate positive behavior in custody and show a potential for rehabilitation,” a Corrections release stated.

The program comes more than three years after Gov. Pat Quinn suspended an early release program after The Associated Press reported that an estimated 2,000 inmates had spent only days or weeks of their sentences in prison.

Since then, the state’s prison system has mushroomed by more than 3,000 inmates. At the same time, Quinn has moved to close prisons, saying the state cannot afford to keep all of the facilities open.

The combination of more inmates in fewer cells has led to inmates sleeping in gymnasiums and what critics say is a dangerous rise in violence. On Friday, Lawrence Correctional Center and Menard Correctional Center were on lockdown status, while Stateville Correctional Center was on partial lockdown.

John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, said the program could help alleviate some of the pressure on the prison system by reducing the inmate population and giving prisoners an incentive to behave.

But, Maki said, the governor should abandon his plan to close Dwight Correctional Center because overcrowding remains a serious problem.

“Illinois is still going to have a very overcrowded prison system,” Maki said.

The system held 45,000 inmates in prisons designed for 33,000 inmates when the last early release program was terminated in 2009. Projections show the number of inmates is heading toward 50,000 in a system built for 32,000 if the governor moves forward with the closure of the all-female prison in Dwight.

Quinn already has shuttered the super-maximum-security prison in Tamms.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison guards and other state workers, said the program could be a positive step.

“But by the department’s own admission in its latest inmate population projection for 2013, this is not an answer to the state’s huge overcrowding problem,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said. “The overcrowding crisis and accompanying dangers will only get worse unless Gov. Quinn keeps Dwight open and reverses the closure of the four IDOC facilities he recently shuttered.”

Under the new program, offenders must have served at least 60 days within the state prison system to be eligible for credit. Inmate files will go through multiple levels of review before an award is determined, Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said.

The program is aimed at nonviolent offenders. Credits cannot be awarded to inmates serving time for murder, rape, kidnapping and other serious crimes.

Officials also will have the right to revoke credit if an inmate demonstrates negative or violent behavior, which was not permitted under previous programs.

The department must notify local authorities at least two weeks prior to an inmate’s parole if the offender received supplemental sentence credit at any point during incarceration.

The agency said it will not inform those who call the agency whether an inmate will be eligible for credit.

But in an attempt to bring transparency to the process, the new law will require the department to provide annual reports outlining how many inmates received credits.

http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/prison-officials-ready-to-launch-early-inmate-release-program/article_1ca143b8-7d3a-11e2-b5f9-0019bb2963f4.html

 

 


 

Safety and conditions at IL prisons and overcrowding have been a very low priority to Governor Quinn, for the past several years now and things are coming to a head a lot faster than Quinn is moving to solve any of these problems.  Quinn has shown himself to be adept at squeezing agency budgets, but somehow his efforts seem to repeatedly fail with unforeseen consequences like what is happening with prison violence. AFSCME has been protesting facility closures and staff limitations for some time now, and it looks like the media may start to hold Quinn accountable for the fact that no one should be threatened with injury or death inside IL prisons: neither inmates, nor prison staff.

Inmates attack 3 Illinois prison staffers at Menard prison

“Two guards and a chaplain were injured Tuesday in an Illinois prison attack that union officials said involved up to 15 inmates, the latest in a series of violent incidents at the lockup and others in the state.

The violence over the past month led to one death last week at Menard Correctional Center, where the most recent assaults also happened. Union officials say the disturbances stem from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to close several prisons around the state to save money, a move they claim has put staffers at overcrowded prisons at greater risk…”

Unionized prison employees picket at Menard

“…Eddie Caumian, AFSCME 31 regional director, said rather than agree to a fair contract, the governor has instead chosen to close facilities leading to overcrowding and a lack of staff.

At the same time, the governor is seeking drastic cuts in pensions, wages and increases in employee contributions to health care coverage, Caumian said.

Menard, he said, is designed for 2,000 inmates but is housing around 3,700 and has fewer than 200 employees per shift. The latter number includes guards, clerical staff and other personnel. Caumian said recent violence is connected to the Tamms closing.

“Any time you cram this many people into a confined space and try to do it with as few staff as possible to help control that situation you are asking for trouble, so certainly no, I don’t think it is coincidental that we are seeing incidences of violence that are spiraling out of control as we continue to put more and more people into prisons that can’t hold them,” Caumian said…”


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on January 7, 2013, that the current flue epidemic in IL is one of the worst in the nation:

Illinois flu outbreak is one of worst in the U.S.

The Illinois Department of Corrections is claiming that despite the present severe overcrowding in IL prisons that “…it has seen few flu cases among prison inmates and employees…” Yet, at the same time, it is encouraging visitors with flu symptoms to stay home and reschedule visits…

Flu Outbreak Not Affecting Prisons

Forgive us for being skeptical. Just about two weeks ago, at least 140  inmates at the Stateville Correctional Center came down with Norovirus infections which began on Christmas :

Norovirus Outbreak Hits Illinois Prison

Stateville Prison Laid Low by Flu-Like Virus

Some inmates were quarantined, and others reported moved to Sheridan. With the current prison overcrowding, it seems unlikely that IDOC inmates are not catching the flu. With media being limited in access to IL prisons, the public has to rely upon the IL Department of Public Health to confirm or deny IDOC’s report of well-being. IDOC is required to report all suspected flu cases to IDPA. IDPA publishes a weekly Influenza Survey Report. It’s flu survey report for the week ending January 12, 2013, cites the occurrence of  32 institutional flu outbreaks; almost a doubling of the 18 institutional flu outbreaks it reported for the week previous. Institutions are described by IDPA as consisting of “nursing home, hospital, prison, school, etc.”

We are getting reports of widespread inmate flu illness at Stateville CC, without preventative flu shots. Hopefully the media will contact the IL Department of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to factually confirm what IDOC says, and the public does not later find out that the flu among inmates is widespread and not being prevented.


State Readies for Revamped Early

Prisoner Release Program

Article online at theSouthern.com


Illinois prison inmates can buy a Sony AM/FM cassette walkman for $46 from prison commissaries, but if they want cassette music, they have to buy their music tapes direct from one of only three generally state-wide approved IL Department of Corrections vendors. Inmates and their families have to deal directly with these vendors by completing and mailing order forms with checks or commissary money deductions to each vendor and relying upon the vendor to actually send them the requested music cassettes. Mo Music Entertainment, of Smyrna, Ga. is one of the three IDOC music tape vendors approved by IDOC, but inmate complaints about Mo Music are increasing and IDOC should immediately remove Mo Music Entertainment as a vendor.

Mo Music Entertainment has been an approved IDOC vendor since at least 2006. The State may have done an initial background check on the company and owner, but IDOC and the State have failed miserably to monitor Mo Music to ensure that it continues to remain a legitimate contractor. IDOC is aware that a growing number of inmates have been having problems with Mo Music Entertainment. Inmates have complained to staff and wardens at several facilities about problems with both the quality of the cassette tapes they receive from Mo Music and long delays receiving the tapes they order or else, never receive from Mo Music. These tapes are expensive. Mo Music states they charge $12.95 per tape if the requested tape is less than three years old, and $17.95 if it is more than three years old. A catalogue of Mo Music Entertainment selections circulating inside IDOC facilities shows some selections which are much more expensive. The tapes are adjusted by the tape vendors so that they are see-thru and acceptable to security for use in prison facilities.

Although the music vendors are contracted to IDOC, IDOC facilities generally do not intervene in or resolve disputes which inmates have with the vendors. If inmates receive shoddy product or their orders are not completed, IDOC usually does not reimburse them for the money they have lost. Complaints about Mo Music and problems at the Menard Correctional Center however grew to the point that Menard removed Mo Music Entertainment from it’s approved music vendor list. Complaints about Mo Music are growing at other IDOC facilities, such as the Stateville Correctional Center, and IDOC needs to quickly void the Mo Music Entertainment contract state-wide if it wants to avoid additional embarrassment.

A quick check of the Better Business Bureau rating of Mo Music Entertainment shows the company has earned the lowest BBB rating of “F” due to more than 20 complaints against the company:

Mo Music Entertainment listing on Better Business Bureau Website

Obviously. the State and IDOC staff have not done even a cursory recent monitor check on the company. Had it or staff done so, they would have learned that IDOC is mandating inmates to conduct business with a “convicted felon”(which is ludicrous for any prison authority)! Below is the Georgia State Business registration for Mo Music Entertainment. Note that Raphael Lenard is listed as Agent, Chief Financial Officer, and Secretary for the company:

Mo Music Entertainment appears to also run a small local music shop in Smyra, GA, garnering less than rave reviews:

smyra-patch.com

While Michael Gray is listed as CEO of Mo Music Entertainment, the majority of the online web information about Mo Music connects it’s identity and address to Raphael Lenard, who just happens to have had two run-ins with the law. Georgia has a first-offender program that allows convicted first-time offenders the opportunity to successfully complete a probation period of time for their offense and the chance to expunge their conviction information. Apparently, Raphael Lenard was not successful in Georgia’s first-offender program. As the Bench Warrant below shows, he was subsequently re-arrested in June 2010:

Lenard was then, re-sentenced. And, his second conviction is for One count of Recorded materials: Unauthorized reproductions, Manufacture, Distribution, and Sale. Individuals who have recently sent complaint letters to Raphael Lenard state they have received letters back from him using the last name “Martin” and claiming that Mo  Music Entertainment was recently sold to someone else. A check of the business registration with the city of Smyrna, GA, shows that the company name registration was indeed changed this summer to “Touch Media”, but that Raphael Lenard, is still recorded as being in charge of the company. A rumor is circulating at Stateville CC that the prison is considering contracting with a “new ” music cassette source by the same new name. If it does so, IDOC may be attempting to mis-represent to it’s inmates that it is contracting with a new entity when it appears that “Touch Media” may just be a different name for “Mo Music Entertainment”.

Some IDOC inmates complain some of the cassettes they receive from Mo Music Entertainment are of such poor quality that they appear to be illegally downloaded copies of the original music. Lenard’s second conviction certainly supports the possibility that Mo Music may be providing some IL inmates with illegally downloaded music. The rest of the legal filings from the Cobb County Superior Court regarding Raphael Lenard appear below.

The State of IL and IDOC are in such a fiscal mess, so procedures fall through the cracks. Despite complaints, Mo Music Entertainment, when contacted, still claimed to our caller that it can fill new orders in two weeks, even to Menard, where it is not longer authorized as a vendor (a phone call to Menard confirms that it is not one of the two Menard approved vendors). Mo Music seems obviously still ready to accept money from unsuspecting inmates. One would hope that when lots of inmates start complaining about a vendor possibly ripping them off, as Mo Music Entertainment appears to be doing, that IDOC or it’s wardens would direct staff to investigate any alleged wrong-doing and correct the situation as quickly as possible. IDOC needs to review and determine if Mo Music still meets it’s vendor requirements, and remove Mo Music Entertainment from it’s state-wide vendor list, NOW, if it does not!


In our opinion, Quinn repeatedly shows that he is a hypocrite who is unconcerned about the physical welfare of his constituents despite his constant rhetoric to the contrary. Governor Quinn already, single-handedly, since he entered office has caused IL prison inmates and their families to suffer the most severe hardships in decades by first taking away  early release options, and causing severe overcrowding in state prisons during a time of short-staffing and deteriorating facility maintenance. State prisoners are enduring cockroaches, mice, sweltering heat, more and more frequent lockdowns, property confiscations, and reduced rations, but Quinn apparently does not want anyone to know about this or raise their voices to criticize the dire conditions! Nor, does he seem to want to move quickly to reduce the overcrowding and improve prison conditions. Now he is using misdirection to cite security concerns as justification for attempting to impose a news black-out to restrict public access to prison facilities in order to stop the public from finding out any more facts about just how bad state prisons are right now. Quinn claims to be a “democratic” governor promoting governmental “transparency”, but barring the press from the prisons and threatening IDOC staff whistle-blowers with legal prosecution and /or intimidation is nothing short of authoritarian “Big Brother” tactics and reveals just how resentful and insecure he is of criticism, no matter how justified it may be!

Gov. Quinn says journalists no longer allowed inside prisons

SPRINGFIELD — For years, journalists have been granted limited access to periodically tour Illinois prisons, but Gov. Pat Quinn Friday decreed the state’s lockups are off-limits to the media.

“I think that’s a fundamental policy that we will always follow,” Quinn said, citing unspecified security concerns voiced by top prison officials.

The governor, who often touts his administration as “transparent,” issued his decision in the wake of reports by WBEZ radio in Chicago that its reporters had been turned down numerous times in their attempts to confirm allegations of horrendous living conditions at the overcrowded, minimum-security facilities in Vienna and Vandalia.

The Associated Press also reported Friday that the administration declined an Aug. 1 request to visit Pontiac’s segregation unit, where dangerous inmates will be housed when high-security Tamms prison closes Aug. 31.

“We’re not going to have tours of Illinois prisons. I don’t believe in that,” Quinn said. “Security comes first. It isn’t a country club. I think prisons are there to incarcerate criminals. They are not there to be visited and looked at.”

The decision comes as the Illinois Department of Corrections is attempting to house more than 48,000 inmates in a system built to handle about 33,000 prisoners. The John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison watchdog organization, has documented that prisoners are living in squalid conditions at Vienna and Vandalia.

Along with prisoners being packed into basements, common areas and gymnasiums not originally built to house prisoners, the organization found inmates dealing with infestations of mold, cockroaches and other vermin.

In July, a group of inmates at Vienna filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to improve the conditions.

While WBEZ reporters wanted a firsthand look at the situation, Quinn said top prison brass believe tours by reporters make prisons less safe for inmates and prison workers.

“I think it’s important that we listen to those who are on the front lines of the prison,” the governor said.

The policy switch comes after years of the prisons being occasionally opened for media tours.

In 1997, for example, more than 80 people — including 25 state lawmakers and members of the press — were given tours of the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center and the all-female Dwight Correctional Center.

In 2005, then-state Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, led a contingent of lawmakers and reporters on a similar tour of the facilities, giving the public a close-up look at how the facilities were operating.

In a statement issued Friday, Rutherford, now the state treasurer, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“For the governor to deny such access to a prison, and say we should just trust his administration with running state prisons is uncalled for and out of touch,” Rutherford said. “State prisons are taxpayer funded and may be posing safety threats not just to prison staffers and inmates, but also to communities.”

The move to limit access to facilities apparently began earlier this year when state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, was barred from entering the Murphysboro youth prison in his district. He later was allowed entry after news reports highlighted the incident.

Luechtefeld said the new policy is likely more of a way to avoid bad publicity than a safety issue.

“It’s probably a lot about politics,” Luechtefeld said Friday.

The Quinn administration also is cracking down on prison employees talking with the news media. State police investigators were at Tamms Correctional Center last week, reportedly probing the leak of information obtained by the Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau regarding a plan to ship some dangerous inmates to out-of-state prisons if Quinn gets his way and closes the state’s lone “supermax” facility.

A top prison official also sent a letter to the Lee bureau suggesting that if the names of the inmates being considered for out-of-state placement were printed, guards and inmates could be in danger.

“If you proceed to disclose any information in your possession on this subject beyond yourself, the department will view your actions as attempting to promote disorder within the prison system,” wrote Jerry Buscher, executive chief of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison employees, slammed Quinn for the decision.

“Instead of making prisons more crowded and dangerous, and silencing employees and journalists who blow the whistle, the governor should truly listen to what’s best for public safety and those who serve. Like legislators, prison employees are telling him to rescind his closures, layoffs and reckless inmate transfers at once,” the union said in a statement.


Governor Pat Quinn just signed the State budget cuts and still plans to close prisons despite IDOC inmate overcrowding, poor prison conditions and now natural disaster strikes due to weather conditions! What’s next?

Storm damage forces inmate transfer from Dixon

“…SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Storm damage forced the transfer of dozens of maximum-security, mentally ill inmates Saturday, leaving the Dixon prison locked down with emergency generators providing power and prompting the correctional workers’ union to raise more questions about the practicality of Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close penitentiaries in a severely crowded system.

The Department of Corrections transferred 78 inmates from Dixon to segregated cells at the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center after severe weather that rolled through north-central Illinois Friday night ripped up roofs and caused other “significant” damage, spokeswoman Stacey Solano said…”