SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois prison-monitoring group says Menard Correctional Center inmates reported concern about "aggressive cellmates" during a visit shortly before a string of three inmate murders since January.
The John Howard Association visited the prison in far southern Illinois in December. Its report, released late yesterday, said several older inmates were worried about cellmates. And the independent watchdog said housing inmates with long sentences with those facing shorter stretches "can be problematic."
Authorities have charged three Menard inmates with murdering cellmates since January. In one, a 40-year-old murderer is accused of beating and strangling a 25-year-old cellmate. In another, a 23-year-old inmate is charged with fatally beating a 64-year-old cellmate.
Corrections officials responded in the report that they review inmates before housing them together.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Randolph County coroner has ruled another inmate death as a homicide at the Menard maximum-security prison in Chester in far southern Illinois.
Coroner Randy Dudenbostel says 35-year-old William Crowder died March 26 from "manual strangulation." The coroner classified the death as a homicide.
State's Attorney Jeremy Walker intends to file first-degree murder charges against a Menard inmate when he receives investigative reports.
He would not name the inmate but says the man is not due for release until 2013.
Crowder was found dead in his cell in the prison's segregation unit at 10:36 p.m. Crowder's was the third homicide since Jan. 31.
Walker previously filed murder charges against former Menard inmates for the deaths of 25-year-old Jason Hall and 64-year-old Yusuf Abuzir.
It is the third such death of a Menard inmate in less than two months.
Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel (DOO'-dihn-bahs-sul) told The Associated Press that the 35-year-old man was declared dead in his cell in the prison's segregation unit at 10:36 p.m. Tuesday. The man had a cellmate even though he was in a segregated cell.
Neither Dudenbostel nor Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano (soh-LAH'-noh) would identify the man. Dudenbostel says an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.
Solano says the prison was locked down Wednesday during an investigation.
Tuesday's inmate death is the third suspicious death at Menard since Jan. 31
Tuesday's assaults were the latest in a series of violent incidents over the last month at Menard Correctional Center and other Illinois state prisons. Last Thursday, a Menard inmate died in what one official called suspicious circumstances.
Union officials say the violence is a result of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to close several prisons around the state to save money.
Tuesday's assaults happened as about 200 union members marched outside the prison in the southern Illinois town of Chester. They were protesting over what they say are growing threats to their safety.
Corrections officials say the attack led to a lockdown.