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FOP says Illinois correctional facility conditions becoming more dangerous, no plan to improve

The environment in Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities is becoming increasingly more dangerous for both correctional officers and offenders and there seems to be little or no movement toward improving the situation, according to the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Corrections Lodge 263.

According to Lodge 263, during the Pritzker administration the Governor’s appointee Camile Lindsay, who gives direction to IDOC, has dangerously shifted focus to an anti-law enforcement, criminal-centered environment that placates social justice advocates at the expense of accountability for criminal behavior.

“Over the last several months working conditions for IDOC officers have become increasingly more stressful and dangerous,” said Lodge 263 President Scot Ward. “There is no valid plan in place to improve the situation, and frightening tragedies will undoubtedly occur unless something is done soon.”

Illegal, synthetic drugs are entering IDOC facilities at a more rapid pace through mail sent to the offenders. These drug-soaked cards, letters and fraudulent attorney-client correspondence has led to an increase in offenders being under the influence of drugs, carrying out violent acts on staff and other offenders. In addition, IDOC officers handling the mail have been unknowingly exposed to these substances, and as a result several officers have required a dose of Narcan or an emergency room visit.

“Many correctional agencies in the United States scan the offenders’ mail and then deliver those scans to the offenders, which keeps illegal drugs from entering the prison through the mail,” Ward said. “We have suggested this solution to top IDOC officials, but to date no action has been taken to stem this postal poison flow.”

The system that holds incarcerated offenders responsible for their actions has been watered down through policy and law changes, Ward said, and the result is that offenders no longer fear repercussions if they harm or kill a fellow offender or an IDOC officer. Restrictive housing for offenses has been reduced or eliminated, fewer cases of offender violence are being sent to county state’s attorneys for prosecution, and parolees are not being sent back to prison for violating the terms of their parole.

“Offenders are no longer concerned about being punished for their violent acts, and that means they literally have nothing to lose by assaulting any human being they encounter in prison,” Ward said. “And if they are not accountable on the inside, how can you ever hope to safely return them to society once their sentences are over?”

The mental health of IDOC officers is also a major concern. Ward said that these men and women work in some of the state’s most dangerous environments and they are under the constant threat of violence, intense scrutiny, lawsuits, investigations, drug exposure, and the daily fear of walking into an environment where anything can, and often does, happen.

“What makes matters worse is that these officers are forced to work excessive amounts of overtime to deal with critical staff shortages,” Ward said. “The mental health assistance systems in place do not offer the anonymity that officers need to avoid the stigma and negative scrutiny of both offenders and their fellow officers.”

“Mental health professionals with experience in helping law enforcement officers must be made available to assist IDOC officers when needed,” Ward said. “IDOC administrators must also be open to the idea of mental health time off, assignment changes, and small acts of appreciation for officers.”

The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP, chartered in 1963, is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 34,000 active duty and retired police officers – more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit for more information.



  1. Joe Public on September 2, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    There isn’t ONE single piece of UNBIASED, FULLY TRUTHFUL information, in this whole damn RIGHT WING, REPUBLICAN agenda based article!!!

    What a joke article for their “midterm drought”!

  2. Chris on September 2, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    Typical, spoiled, overpaid prison guard rhetoric trying to win public support. Taxpayers are sick and tired of your whining. You people are overpaid and you lie about your working conditions. A non-governmental commission, uninfluenced by your pathetic union needs to visit IDOC facilities unannounced.

    • Bb on September 3, 2022 at 9:19 pm

      I worked in both male and female maximum security prisons for over 20 years. Mental health for staff is non- existent unless you want to give the administration ammunition to use against you if you are up for discipline of any kind. Discipline could be rendered for simply forgetting to sign a gallery check or key log when you have to sign 8 times and only signed seven in error. The mental toll the prison environment where little things like this takes a heavy toll. And that’s nothing compared to being exposed to verbal and physical abuse day in, day out. Those who think prison employees are paid “ too much” are the very same people who would not dare do the job. Imagine being a female employee and being told to walk a gallery. While walking that gallery every other inmate, who has been told by the first one on the gallery by shouting “”pussy on the gallery” has stripped completely naked or exposed their genitals so that when that female comes by they can masturbate. This isn’t a once in a while event, this is an every time a female enters the gallery event for max inmates. Imagine having your employer tell you that you still have to stop and talk to these mates even though they are sexually harassing you. The male officers don’t have this but they are bombarded with feces and urine thrown at them or on them on a daily basis. Still think they are paid too much? How much would it take for you, Joe citizen, to endure this treatment? These are just the tip of the iceberg. Staff are subject to severe assault as well. How many are prosecuted for this behavior? None. They are written a “ticket” and face interdisciplinary action of a few days in segregation. Not to be confused with solitary confinement because that doesn’t exist in Illinois, even though the term is used in the media often. I could go on and on but I am sure by now you get the picture.

  3. Lynne Sitkiewicz on September 2, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    This is frightening to read let alone for employees to work in this environment. It’s a wonder there isn’t a mass walkout. Pritzker needs to replace Camile Lindsay and get an environment safe for everyone and treat offenders as you would a child….doing wrong has repercussions. That’s how you learn, not by allowing offenders to get away with anything!

  4. Shari Stone on September 3, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    The real danger here is Scott Ward and the Illinois Business Journal that is providing a platform for Ward’s self-serving rhetoric. People with loved ones in Illinois prisons are concerned about real problems in those facilities, including violence and irresponsible behavior by prison guards. Ward, however, is exploiting these concerns for his own political agenda and to advance wasteful non-solutions (like photocopying mail) to detract attention from IDOC violence. The Illinois Business Journal should address the real problems in lL prisons and should speak to people with loved ones in prison.

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