Local FOP Corrections Lodge Comes Out in Opposition of Legislation Reducing Inmate Restrictive Housing

By Benjamin Cox on March 15, 2024 at 7:57am

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Corrections Lodge has come out in opposition to a bill in the wake of assaults on staff at Western Illinois Corrections Facility in Mt. Sterling.

FOP Corrections Lodge 263 President Scot Ward has come out in opposition of House Bill 4828 that would limit restrictive housing for inmates who have committed crimes while in prison. The bill would not allow an inmate to spend any more than 10 days in restrictive housing in a 180-day time frame.

Ward issued the following statement on Thursday morning: “Just in the past week there have been three serious assaults on staff at the Western Illinois correctional Center in Mt. Sterling, and there have been nine such assaults at the facility since January 1. Five correctional officers have required hospital treatment in the past two weeks for injuries sustained in those assaults. We cannot work in a vacuum on this matter while people get hurt or possibly killed. Legislation that gives offenders a slap on the wrist for sending staff to the hospital encourages violence against correctional officers by not holding dangerous inmates accountable for their actions. Offenders should receive restrictive housing and other consequences that fit the seriousness of their illegal actions, and county state’s attorneys should prosecute those offenders to the full extent of the law. It shouldn’t take a body count to convince lawmakers to stop coddling the lawbreakers.”

Ward, speaking via text message to WLDS News yesterday says that he doesn’t believe the attacks at the facility are in connection or in retaliation over the 3 prison guards convicted last year of civil rights offenses in the death of Larry Earvin.

He says the only thing that may be a direct result at Western is that the facility has “softer accountability measures that we have to follow in holding offenders accountable for the infractions [they commit], no matter how harsh the infractions may be.”

Ward says he believes the current legislation further advances the agenda that correctional officers have no control at any IDOC facility.

He says there is time to fix the problem: “There is time to fix this, but it is urgent, with the right people brought to the table before the dam breaks. Unfortunately, the issues become more complex than they should be when people without working knowledge [of corrections] get involved.”