WILY/WRXX News is confirming at this hour that an inmate at Menard Correctional Center in Chester has been murdered tonight (Thursday). Early reports are indicating he may have been beaten to death in the segregation unit by his cell mate, but reports are sketchy as the incident is still in the very early stages of investigation.
Ty Petersen, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) confirmed the murder earlier Thursday night, but was still gathering details. Further information is expected later tonight or possibly early Friday.
IDOC Spokesman Jeff Squibb confirmed Thursday night that the inmate was pronounced dead at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The incident is the latest in a month of bad news for the Illinois Department of Corrections.
On Monday a corrections officer working at Pontiac Correctional Center was reportedly assaulted by an inmate and had to be rushed to the hospital with severe head and facial injuries. The prison guard had to undergo surgery Thursday for the severe injuries he suffered in the assault.
Two weeks ago, Menard was again the scene of violence, when a correctional officer was assaulted there, also by an inmate. In that incident, however, the injuries suffered by the officer were limited to only bruises and minor contusions.
In early January, an officer at Pinckneyville Correctional Center was assaulted by an inmate during routine prisoner movement.
Then late Wednesday afternoon a report was released by the Executive Ethics Commission that found IDOC Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez and his Chief of Staff Jerry Buscher improperly hired the son of a former U.S. Congressman as an assistant warden at East Moline Correctional Center, despite the fact the son did not meet IDOC’s own requirements for the position.
In response to the recent events, AFSCME will hold an informational picket at 2 p.m. Thursday in front of Menard’s medium security facility on Route 3 in Chester.
The attacks came after inmates from the super-max security facility Tamms Correctional Center was shuttered and its inmates transferred out to other state facilities. The closure also resulted in the state’s more than 49,000 inmates being crammed into a system designed for only 33,000, but now with one less facility.
Opponents of the Tamms closure warned such a move would result in increased violence within the already overcrowded system, but the department has stated there was no connection between Monday’s assault at Pontiac and the closure of Tamms.
Tamms, built following a riot at Pontiac Correctional Center, was developed as a deterrent for inmate violence, as prisoners did not want to get sent to the facility as punishment for fighting elsewhere.
WILY/WRXX will keep you updated on Thursday’s fatal incident at Menard as information becomes available.