Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel has released the name of the Menard inmate killed Thursday at the correctional facility in Chester, according to the Southern.
Dudenbostel said the inmate was 25-year-old Jason Hall, from Chicago. Hall was two years into a 13 year sentence for
aggravated vehicle hijacking with a weapon. He was pronounced dead in his cell at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
Illinois Department of Corrections authorities say Hall’s death is being investigated as “suspicious” and would not go further into details about the nature of his death. However, one union official is saying Hall was murdered by another inmate.
While an autopsy has been completed on Hall, Dudenbostel said he could not release the cause of death as it is still being investigated by his office, the state police and IDOC internal and external investigators.
Unofficial reports indicate Hall’s cell mate was also from Chicago and was serving three life sentences without the chance of parole for the shooting deaths of two people and the strangling death of another. The rumored cell mate was serving an additional 30-year sentence for being an armed habitual criminal. Both men are believed to have ties to Chicago gangs.
In an interview with the Southern, Kevin Hirsch, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1175 which represents Menard correctional officers said, “An inmate murdered another inmate. Violence is going to occur in a prison. Our staff responded appropriately and performed exemplary.”
As we reported Thursday night, the incident is the latest in a recent string of violent events in Illinois prisons, starting in early January with the assault of a guard at Pinckneyville; then another staff assault in mid-January at Menard, during which a warning shot had to be fired. Then on Monday a guard at Pontiac Correctional Center was attacked by an inmate and required surgery for his severe head and facial injuries.
“The assaults on staff and inmate-on-inmate assaults are more serious and the weaponry is more substantial,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch, along with other critics of Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to close the Tamms “supermax” security prison in Southern Illinois said violence in Illinois correctional facilities is on the rise because of understaffing and overcrowding.
“It’s all related. We aren’t able to geographically move them to Tamms now and they know that,” he said. “Yes, things are more violent. This is what we are subjected to every day when we go behind the wall.”