Ill. federal prison union demands return of search team after staff member assaulted
"They continue to say we are going to be fine and no one is in jeopardy, but we are very much in jeopardy," the union's president said
By Thomas Geyer
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill.
THOMSON, Ill. — Union representatives for correctional officers and staff at the U.S. Penitentiary in Thomson, Ill., are demanding reinstatement of the prison's search team after a staff member was assaulted by an inmate Tuesday.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Tim Kaufman, spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 4070, said the staff member was assaulted after finding the inmate in possession of a contraband cell phone.
The incident occurred at about 9 a.m.
Kaufman said the staff member was treated and released, but it was not clear if the staff member was treated at the prison or at a hospital.
Union officials have repeatedly requested the return of the prison's search team, which is made up of 10 staff who search for contraband, Kaufman said.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons disbanded the search team under the guise of what Kaufman said were "right-sizing" and cost-saving measures.
Local 4070 President Jon Zumkehr said he plans to talk to members of Congress about the union's concerns about the staffing cuts and the potential danger to staff, inmates and the public.
"They continue to say we are going to be fine and no one is in jeopardy, but we are very much in jeopardy with all the recent incidents," Zumkehr said in the news release.
Zumkehr said the Bureau of Prisons considers the prison fully staffed even though just 83% of jobs are filled. The staffing shortages affect the ability of staff to rehabilitate prisoners with educational and skills classes, he added.
Thomson is located in Carroll County, Ill., about 11 miles north of Clinton, Iowa.
(c)2022 Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill.