“Cruel and Unusual” is Not So Unusual in Prison

Written by Melissa Bee

August 24, 2023

From a person who has been locked up almost 30 years in the custody of the Illinois department of corrections, I would have thought that communication married to reunification with family & friends would be the foundation (next to protecting society) to their rehabilitation goals. At every turn here in the Dixon correctional center in Illinois those goals have been abandoned! Cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth amendment is exemplified in many ways by administrations throughout the United States by its treatment of inmates and their families and friends.

Here in Dixon, we have been on lockdown exactly 121 days since I arrived from Pinckneyville prison on January 26, 2023. We’re on lockdowns because staff have figured out a way to extend the pandemic benefits for themselves by demanding through their unions that no mandates be allowed related to them being required to come to work (because of virus), so that’s still in play. For this reason, our families and friends are turned away after traveling for in-person visits. Video visits are cancelled. No phone calls. No programs! Nothing. The idea that a correctional center is closed all the time because of unions stopping mandates is ridiculous & violates the Illinois constitution by shutting down programs to restore inmates to productive citizenship! The federal rehabilitation act gives millions of dollars to all state prisons for these programs that are inactive because of lockdowns – three years after the pandemic started. Prices in the commissary are New York City prices! A burger in the staff’s commissary is $5.00 – but in the visiting room the same sandwich is $15.00! A water $4.00, a small bag of chips with exactly 11 small chips in it $4.00! We have no voice nor do our family members or friends. The union AFSCME in Illinois wants to stop the Jpay/Securus tablets from coming in as a new way for inmates to communicate, they want us in this medium security prison to be locked down and oppressed.

Interstate Compact Inmate
Kurtis M. Williams N53299
Dixon, Illinois

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