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Armed Guards in Illinois

In the article entitled No Specific Intent Required for 8th Amendment Claim [PLN Vol. 7 No. 3], you stated that to the best of [your] knowledge, Nevada and California are the only prisons which station armed guards within their housing units. Please be advised that Illinois also has armed guards within their housing units at each of the four maximum security facilities, and will most likely have armed guards at the supermax which is scheduled to open in 1997.

Here at the Pontiac Maximum Penitentiary, guards continuously walk up and down a semi-caged catwalk looking into cells. The catwalk guards are armed with an M-14.

On January 12, 1996, a catwalk guard observed a prisoner approaching another guard in what he described as a threatening manner, and he believed said prisoner to be armed with what appeared to be a homemade knife. The catwalk guard said he feared for the safety of his fellow officer, so he shot and killed the prisoner. Pontiac has been on lockdown status since the killing [letter dated July 7] and prisoncrats are using this incident along with prior and subsequent incidents of violence to justify what is appearing to be a permanent lockdown status, just as they did at Marion, IL.

I recently renewed my subscription, and I have also participated in the media outreach campaign by purchasing a one year subscription for another editor of my hometown newspaper. Hopefully others have participated in this campaign, too.

-- J.M., Pontiac, IL

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