New accounts of abuse at federal prison prompt renewed calls for investigation

Official closure of a violent federal prison unit in Illinois has not extinguished allegations of abuse, with new reports sparking calls for investigations of the officers involved.

Report findings: The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs released a report detailing the experiences of over 120 individuals incarcerated in the Special Management Unit (SMU) of the Thomson Penitentiary.
* Complaints included officer-inflicted beatings on shackled inmates, inadequate mental health services, and obstacles in filing complaints.
* Five men died by suspected homicide within this SMU.

Moving the problem: Upon closure, 350 people were relocated to various prisons where they report their solitary confinement has continued.
* Several Thomson penitentiary guards now work at other federal facilities.
* Over 25 report respondents contacted the Lawyers’ Committee following their transfer away from Thomson, citing fear of retaliation for voicing complaints while at the unit.

Contextual examples: One former Thomson resident detailed violent incidents, alleging assault by multiple guards while in shackles.
* This abuse reportedly occurred as punishment for attempting to file grievances against staff.

Administrative response: Bureau spokesperson Emery Nelson declined to comment on individual cases but confirmed no plans to reopen the SMU.
* Newly appointed Bureau Director, Colette Peters, pledged commitment to addressing misconduct “swiftly” and declared a culture diverging from agency values would not be tolerated.
* Despite these promises, calls persist for staff members associated with violent offenses to face potential criminal investigation or job termination.

Political stance: Prominent figures such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin have publicly supported holding those who violated the civil rights of Thomson’s incarcerated to account.
* Durbin praised the decision to close the Special Management Unit and urged against its reopening in another facility.

View original article on NPR

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