Mt. Vernon Register-News

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July 23, 2013

Big Muddy report prompts recommendations

(Continued)

The John Howard Association also cited problems with the disabled and chronically ill inmates.

“Where a program requires active participation for success, IDOC must provide inmates with the means to participate,” the report states. JHA encountered several hearing-impaired and deaf inmates in the SDP program and the general population who reported experiencing difficulties and requested accommodations. The Big Muddy inmate orientation manual does detail that inmates can receive ADA communication plans. However, in one case, an individual reported that he asked to be moved to the front of the housing unit to be able to be aware of activity or announcements, and this had not been resolved months after the request. Inmates reported difficulty obtaining hearing aids and adequate translators, yet inmates are regularly disciplined and disadvantaged for not hearing. JHA recommends that IDOC create adequate means of communication for deaf and hearing-impaired inmates, and retrain staff on disability issues.”

Grievances were another problem at the facility reported by JHA.

“Current administrators acknowledged that there have been problems with the grievance process and stated that they also commonly hear from inmates that their grievances were not addressed,” the report states. “Inmates also reported that they are retaliated against for grievances and requested outside oversight of the grievance system. After JHA’s visit, we received reports of retaliation from inmates expressing concerns, including that multiple unnamed inmates were sent to segregation. JHA recommends that Big Muddy retrain staff on the importance of a functional grievance system and the inappropriateness of retaliation. Administrators stressed that inmates are not retaliated against because of grievances or any issues expressed to an outside agency, that staff are trained on the grievance system annually and reminded of it constantly, and that no inmate was taken to segregation as a result of speaking with JHA.”

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