JOLIET — A Thursday night incident at Stateville Correctional Center sent three staff members to the hospital with injuries, and landing the facility under a partial lockdown.

According to Officer Ralph Portwood, president of AFSCME Local 1866, between 5 and 6 p.m. Thursday, the now hospitalized officer was attacked when he was alone while taking an inmate to the showers.

prisonPortwood says the inmate, who is classified as “seriously mentally ill” or SMI, attacked the officer, seriously beating him until other staff came to their coworker’s rescue, with up to seven officers needed to get the inmate under control.

The assault was unwarranted, says Portwood. The hospitalized officer suffered injuries to his head, chest and elbow, and had not been discharged as of Friday night.

The other two officers were treated at the hospital for their injuries and released. But according to Portwood, one of them had been on the job just a few weeks and suffered loosened teeth in the incident.

This is the second such incident in the last few weeks at the northern Illinois maximum-security facility. Portwood says a female officer suffered fractured facial bones in an attack a few weeks ago.

Thursday’s incident took place in the facility’s receiving and classification unit, where inmates have limited freedoms while being assessed for permanent placement.

The inmate in question, he says, has been in the unit for 90 days, a length of time that can often become frustrating to inmates.

Portwood says because of current understaffing, it isn’t unusual for a single officer to take one, or even two inmates to shower. He notes that it’s a significantly dangerous time for an officer, as the inmates are uncuffed.

The situation is made more dangerous, according to Portwood, as the catwalks are unmanned. With proper staffing levels, he says, armed officers would man the catwalks and monitor all inmate movement below.

Emails to the IDOC spokesperson for comment on the incident were returned as undeliverable.

Stateville is the second IDOC facility to be placed on lockdown this week. Menard Correctional Center, also a maximum-security facility, remains on full-lockdown after an incident earlier this week involving between 20-30 inmates.

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