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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cell Stabbing -- July 16, 2009

Today, I came back from morning chow, and noticed that all the cell house workers were locked in their cells, which was unusual. I began to read a newspaper while I waited for my name to be called for a visit. I was expecting my mother and sister to come on this day. Almost all my visitors come on Thursday, and I typically get a visit every week. Not long after I settled in, I heard prisoners yelling, "Warden in the cell house," and then, "Police on their way to 6 gallery."

While I was at chow, B House was put on lockdown. Internal affairs staff, along with a couple of assistant wardens, went upstairs to view the carnage which was soon deemed to be a crime scene. Outside police investigators were brought in, and they took photos of the cell. Fights and assaults rarely are the focus of outside police. This assault must have been a particularly brutal one. The Assistant States Attorney of Will County will probably bring aggravated battery charges against the offender, but it depends largely on the circumstances of the incident.

From what I have been told, the two cellies had not been getting along for a few weeks. They had notified the cell house sergeant and lieutenant, but they were continued to be celled together. One of the men was a small, older person, and he was being bullied by his much larger cellie. Supposedly, after the smaller man awoke to discover his cellmate had eaten his breakfast, they began to argue. When the argument got physical, a shank was pulled out. The alleged bully was then stabbed repeatedly. As he tried to fend off the stabbing, I am told by a nurse, his arms were slashed. Ultimately, however, he was stabbed in the mid section a number of times. The man being stabbed never called out for help, but guards eventually came to the scene. Upon seeing the inmate bleeding from numerous wounds, and blood all over the cell, guards quickly called for nurses over the radio. Nurses ran up the stairs to the third floor, and he was quickly taken to the hospital. I am told by staff that the man will live, but he was badly injured and taken to an outside hospital to be treated.

While I was waiting for my visit, I heard the lieutenant yell at someone to cuff up. I then heard another shout, warning an inmate this was his last chance to be handcuffed. The man who stabbed his cellie was refusing to leave his cell to be taken to the segregation unit. When an inmate continues to refuse to put his hands behind his back and be handcuffed, he is usually maced, and then ambushed by guards. The prison has a special cell extraction unit composed of guards who are trained to remove an inmate. However, I have not seen this unit called in quite some time.

Initially, I thought the police going up to 6 gallery was to extract the assaulter from his cell. However, I later heard them shaking down cells. Apparently, a prisoner had stolen something from the dentist's office. The dentist did not realize it until later, and the guards went to look for it. I have yet to learn what was stolen, but whatever it was, was found. Guards took this inmate to segregation. From what I am told, this is his second trip to segregation for stealing from the dentist office.

At 12:15 p.m, my visit was called. The lockdown status of the cell house was in question, and a guard let me out of my cell. The officer escorting me said he would try to get me out for my visit. The cell fight was an isolated incident, and no other cell houses were on lockdown. Furthermore, prisoners from B House were not being ordered back to their cells as would occur in an official lockdown. The guard opened the front door to discover a number of "white shirts" outside. (White shirts are any correctional officer with a rank of lieutenant or higher. These officers wear white shirts, unlike guards or sergeants, thus their prison name.) The guard escorting me was unwilling to take the risk of taking me out of the cell house with so many supervisors observing. A phone call was made to find out if I could go on my visit, and the guard was told that there was absolutely no movement out of B House. I was then taken back to my cell and locked up again. I was very disappointed that I was not able to see my family, and that they drove here and waited all that time for nothing.

Back in my cell, I took off my shoes and began to read my newspapers again. About an hour later, a guard came to my cell and asked me for my name, and whether I was ready to go on my visit. Apparently, the cell house lieutenant had given the stop all movement order, and not the major or warden. By the time I reached the visiting room, there was only about a half hour remaining for visits. Visitation ends at 2:15 p.m. at Stateville. For various reasons, I have yet to get a full two-hour visit for a few months.