Pontiac Gets Long-Awaited Infusion Of Staff Upon Dwight’s Closure

Illinois’ Pontiac, Sheridan and Stateville prisons will have more guards on rotation. The Departments of Corrections says most of the employees who had been working at the Dwight correctional center started their new jobs yesterday.

An additional 148 employees will join Pontiac’s prison staff.  Pontiac Warden Randy Pfister says it’ll be a “very welcome addition.”

PFISTER: “Something we’ve hoped for for a very long time.”

Prison guard Frank Turner says he has been waiting since Governor Pat Quinn closed the Tamm’s prison in deep southern Illinois and sent those “worst-of-the-worst” inmates to Pontiac. That happened back in August and December. Turner, who heads the local AFSCME union, said he was promised Pontiac would get more guards then. Instead, he says, they’ve had to work overtime.

TURNER: “If you’ve got an individual that’s worked 16 hour shifts three or four days in a row, he’s going to be tired, he’s not going to be as receptive, you know, to his surroundings, you know, and it puts other people in danger. Because if he’s not paying attention something could have happened that he could have averted if he was alert. ”

Pontiac’s warden says the Tamms inmates have caused no violence since arriving. But AFSCME says overcrowding remains an issue.

The Department of Corrections says in addition to the nearly 150 former Dwight employees who moved to Pontiac, 90 are now working at the Sheridan prison and 30 went to Stateville. Another 50 or so went to other facilities around Illinois. A D-O-C spokeswoman says only a small, clean-up crew is still working at Dwight.

She says a dozen employees retired or resigned upon Dwight’s closure last week.
But another 19 were laid off.

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