A spokesman for the union representing Illinois prison workers now says staff at nearly all state facilities has been subject to coordinated shakedowns. And a July 19th e-mail obtained by the Associated Press seems to confirm those comments, saying a Department of Corrections administrator ordered wardens to at 10 prisons to conduct mass shakedowns of staff as they left work last week. Initially, guards and others at seven prisons, including those in Danville and Pontiac, reported being searched for contraband in the last week. The employees contend the pat downs are in retaliation for complaints about overcrowding and understaffing in the corrections system. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says in his 10 years with the union he's never seen a coordinated search of prison staffers as they're leaving work:
"If you're trying to prevent contraband getting into the prison, you do that on the way in. A child could tell you that. To search employees on the way out does not prevent anything from getting into the facility. Instead, it really constitutes harassment."
In a statement, Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano calls staff searches a routine security measure in efforts to keep contraband out of the facilities, and that the department has full authority to search employees whenever it chooses. She says the searches are in no way a retaliation against staff.
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