Letters to the Editor 1/4/18
MENTALLY ILL INMATES
I just wanted to make sure you and your readers know that this administration and the Illinois Department of Corrections have taken considerable steps to enhance the delivery of care for offenders who are on the mental health caseload (“A medieval state,” Bruce Rushton, Illinois Times, Dec. 21).
The following statement can be attributed to IDOC director John Baldwin:
“The Illinois Department of Corrections has taken considerable steps to enhance the delivery of care for offenders who are on the mental health caseload. The department remains focused on fully complying with the terms of the Rasho v. Baldwin settlement agreement. It should be pointed out that, at a recent hearing, Dr. Melvin Hinton was called as an adverse witness. The vast majority of the questions he was asked required “Yes” or “No” answers. In other words, there were very few opportunities for him to explain the many accomplishments the department has made in the 18 months since the agreement was signed. It is important for the public to know the following:
• While recruiting qualified mental health professionals has been a challenge, the department has added hundreds of new staff members since 2015 to address the mental health needs of its offenders.
• Department staff continues to receive ongoing training, including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) training and Verbal Judo, which equips them with the knowledge to de-escalate situations and meet the unique needs of its mentally ill population.
• The department has reduced segregation time by 44 percent since 2015 and has drastically increased out-of-cell time for offenders who are housed in segregation.
• The department has implemented additional programming for offenders who are on the mental health caseload.
• Currently, there are seriously mentally ill residents receiving residential treatment services at Joliet Treatment Center and the residential treatment units at Logan and Dixon Correctional Centers.
• Additionally, the IDOC enlisted the services of an engineering firm to develop a state-of-the-art, 200-bed mental health and general medicine treatment unit for seriously mentally ill offenders.
The safety of our staff, the offenders in our custody, and the public are our top priority. The department continues to make adjustments in its day-to-day operations that balance safety, security and the needs of our mentally ill population. The department remains committed to ensuring that mentally ill men and women receive the treatment that is essential to their well-being, rehabilitation and re-entry into society.”
Lindsey N. Hess
Public Information Officer
Illinois Department of Corrections
I object to the omission of Southeast coach and teacher Steve Rockford in the year-end “Remembering the lives they lived” issue of Illinois Times (Dec. 28). He showed us great courage in his battle with ALS and should have been included in this issue.
E.J. Kienzler II
The photograph of Thomas R. Jones, Sr. that appeared on page 7 of the “Remembering the lives they lived” issue of Illinois Times (Dec. 28) should have been credited to Lou Szoke Master Photographer.