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Assault on Ill. prison staff prompts lockdown

Thomson Federal Prison has been placed on a lockdown since Aug. 1 after an inmate assaulted a staff member

USP Thomson prison

By Grace Kinnicutt
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill.

THOMSON, Ill. — Thomson Federal Prison has been placed on modified operations, or lockdown, since last week due to an assault.

Local 4070 Union President Jon Zumkehr said that an inmate assaulted a staff member, which resulted in the lockdown and prompted no visitations over this past weekend. Zumkehr is the president of the American Federal Union of Government Employees Local 4070, which represents staff at the federal prison.

“When that happened, that triggered a lockdown,” Zumkehr said. “All the inmates were secured in their cells and we are going through lockdown procedure.”

The union is working hand-in-hand with the management at Thompson throughout the investigation procedure. The prison continues to be on lockdown until deemed safe for inmates and staff. The staff member was treated at the prison last week and was released back home.

Thomson currently houses a total of 1,326 inmates with 1,198 inmates at the federal prison and 128 inmates at the minimum security satellite camp.

In an e-mail to the Quad-City Times/Dispatch-Argus, the Federal Bureau of Prisons also confirmed that a lockdown went into effect at the prison Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The lockdown is a temporary change to some institution operations that include adults in custody, programs and/or services. Institutions are placed on lockdown when an incident occurs and needs to be thoroughly investigated.

No further information was provided from the Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding the lockdown.

Thomas Bergami, who was appointed warden in March 2022, is no longer at Thomson.

Zumkehr said Bergami and his executive staff team all left on the same day and that it happened suddenly in July.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons did not provide information on Bergami’s departure from Thomson but said he is still employed with the bureau.

Since Bergami’s departure, Zumkehr said, Associate Wardens from different institutions have been coming to Thomson and providing help and leadership the past few weeks. Since the temporary leadership has taken over, staff morale is up with appreciation lunches happening, better communication between the union and executive staff, and programs such as more education classes being offered to the inmates, he said.

The union also has started a hiring push for more correctional officers. For those interested in applying, Zumkehr said they can come to the prison Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to apply. Staff will be available to help with the application.

In July 2022, staff and the union were calling for the immediate removal of Bergami and sent a letter to the United States Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco citing “an abundance of serious incidents”, a departure of correctional officers, and alleging Bergami failed within his position of trust and placed the staff, inmates, and communities at risk.

The Quad-City Times/Dispatch-Argus reported earlier this year that the federal prison was temporarily converted into a low-security prison earlier this year. The adjacent low-security camp was unaffected throughout the transition.


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