- Cape student sues, accuses school officials of slamming her to ground multiple times (04/28/16)43
- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
- Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons without permits (04/28/16)6
- Two hurt in motorcycle wreck on Interstate 55 (04/25/16)1
- Law firm requests information about Cape's traffic cameras (04/25/16)2
- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
- Police report filed, but no charges in incident at Cape Central (04/29/16)31
- Tanker truck catches fire near Oak Ridge (04/24/16)7
- Local company makes eco-friendly kitty litter that cuts cat-box smell (04/25/16)
- Senator introduces bill for I-57 that would connect Sikeston with Little Rock (04/28/16)4
AP Exclusive: Shakedowns of Illinois prison staff ordered
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- An email from an Illinois Department of Corrections administrator ordered wardens at 10 prisons to conduct "mass shakedowns" of staff as they left work last week, at the same time workers were telling lawmakers about problems at the facilities.
The July 19 memo obtained by The Associated Press is from Ty Bates, the department's southern region deputy director. It was sent less than 20 minutes after a hearing started at the state Capitol where a dozen workers testified about prison overcrowding and understaffing.
Employees say conditions are deteriorating at a time when Gov. Pat Quinn plans to close several prisons, including the supermax prison in Tamms that houses gang leaders and others who have been violent in other lockups.
The department had no immediate comment Monday on the newly obtained email. The agency had previously denied any retaliation toward workers who speak out, though it didn't comment on whether the searches were a coordinated effort.
Department spokeswoman Stacey Solano said last week that staff searches are "routine security measure" to control illegal materials -- from magazines to weapons -- from getting into the hands of inmates.
The department has the right to search workers at any time. But several employees said they'd never gone through the pat downs at the end of the work day, and one said she couldn't remember how many years had passed since she had gone through any shakedown.
Bates' email to the 10 prison wardens and a halfway house superintendent asked that they "please ensure we conduct a mass shakedown on a shift of your choosing" by the end of last week.
It was dated July 19 at 11:18 a.m. The testimony by prison workers in Springfield began at 11 a.m.
Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the workers' union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, called the shakedowns "retaliatory harassment" for employees who were speaking out publicly.
Contact John O'Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor.