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Unions raise safety concerns after two guards are injured in Pontiac prison attack

Guards leave at shift change
Charles Rex Arbogast
/
AP file
Pontiac is a maximum-security prison located about 30 miles northeast of Bloomington-Normal.

Union leaders are raising concerns about staffing levels and employee safety after a correctional sergeant was stabbed at Pontiac prison on Wednesday.

The sergeant involved in Wednesday's "vicious attack" was airlifted to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he was being treated, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union said in a statement Wednesday night. A second correctional officer was injured as he rushed to the sergeant’s aid, AFSCME said, and he has since been treated for his injuries and released.

"The bravery of the men and women who work at Pontiac Correctional Center was on full display today. Despite working short staffed, our officers on duty responded swiftly to apprehend the offending individual and assure medical treatment for the injured sergeant. Their swift and decisive response prevented a potentially deadly situation from spiraling out of control," AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch and AFSCME Local 494 President and Corrections Lt. William Lee said in the statement.

Another union, the Fraternal Order of Police Illinois Corrections Lodge 263, said it was "disgusted" by Wednesday's attack and that "enough is enough."

"We cannot continue to be targets daily, and the world needs to take notice of the situation we are dealing with, while protecting the community with those by the thousands sentenced behind the razor and walls," the FOP Lodge said. "It needs to be corrected before it gets worse."

FOP added: "(The injured correctional officers) deserved better, by way of accountability measures to deter these violent and illegal acts and accountability as well as personal support after these acts."

Pontiac is a maximum-security prison located about 30 miles northeast of Bloomington-Normal.

A message left with an Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson was not immediately returned Thursday.

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
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