PONTIAC, Ill. (WCIA) — Correctional officers in Pontiac are hitting the picket line on Wednesday to protest what they said is a severe understaffing and, as a consequence, reduced safety.
This protest comes just weeks after a pair of officers working in the Pontiac Correctional Center were attacked by an inmate armed with an improvised metal shank. One of the officers was stabbed in the neck and almost died.
Representatives of AFSCME Local 494, the union representing the correctional center employees, said this is the second time in one year where a guard there was stabbed by an inmate. They are demanding that Illinois Department of Corrections leadership take immediate action to improve staffing levels and safety there.
The representatives said the Pontiac Correction Center is authorized to have 1,140 employees when fully staffed, but there are currently just 600 in paid status. They further said that despite being a maximum-security prison that houses some of the state’s most violent and dangerous offenders, the Pontiac Correctional Center is 300 correctional officers short of its authorized headcount.
This shortage, the representatives said, makes it extremely difficult for employees to conduct the shakedowns necessary to find improvised weapons like the ones used in both officer stabbings.