Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said some Menard inmates were transferred, but to secure segregation units in other facilities, not to general population wards.
"It is typical when multiple offenders are involved in an incident to separate them while the department conducts its investigation ... ," Solano said. "Segregation units at all facilities are governed by the same department rules. The department only moves inmates into facilities or units where appropriate security can be maintained."
Prior to the 1998 opening of Tamms to house "the worst of the worst" — violent offenders or gang leaders exiled in nearly around-the-clock isolation to sever communication lines and reduce other troubles — the separation occurred through "Temporary Disciplinary Detention." Past DOC officials say participants earned the moniker "circuit riders" because they didn't stay in one penitentiary for more than a month.
AFSCME lost a lawsuit last year against Gov. Pat Quinn to halt Tamms' closure. Quinn said the state couldn't afford the expensive prison in a budget crisis and human rights advocates protested the treatment of inmates there.
Since then, in addition to the chapel assault at the maximum-security penitentiary in Menard, a Pontiac prison inmate beat a guard so severely he needed facial reconstructive surgery and another prisoner at Menard died in what the local prosecutor says is a suspected murder by another inmate. Some prison employees claim inmates are more inclined toward violence because they no longer face the threat of a Tamms trip.
Caumiant's letter said it's a violation of Corrections' administrative guidelines to move maximum-security inmates to facilities with lower levels of security.
"What's more," Caumiant said, "it is the height of irresponsibility to put employees of the receiving facilities in the position of taking inmates with no immediate knowledge of the violent crimes they have committed against employees and other inmates."
Solano said Corrections is reviewing Caumiant's letter, has met with the union on the matter and "will continue meeting to further discuss their concerns."