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Author Topic: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop  (Read 2951 times)

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Offline me

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Stateville prison guard reassigned after "outrageous" security stop
An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie and Barbara Markoff
Thursday, August 20, 2015 10:50PM

Stateville Correctional Center in suburban Will County has been called the world's toughest prison, housing 4,000 of the worst male criminals. Visitors must be "dressed appropriately" or they are not allowed in.

Now there are questions about common sense, involving a veteran stenographer who had a double mastectomy but was called out by guards and then thrown out for not wearing a bra, despite dressing very conservatively for a recent deposition at the prison.

"The female guard proceeded to search me and was feeling my back and was feeling it in a rubbing way, and she said to me, 'You're not wearing a bra?'" recalls Stephanie Battaglia.

Battaglia had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery 10 years ago. She says she dressed very conservatively in July when she arrived for an official meeting with a Stateville administrator.

"I don't need to wear a bra," says. "I can't wear a bra and she said, 'Well I can't let you in.' I said, 'No, I can't wear a bra because I have nerve damage from the surgery, from when I had the mastectomy.'"

Battaglia said even after the guard called a supervisor and explained her medical history she was still denied access to a conference room, away from any prisoners, for a court deposition.

Illinois Department of Corrections visitation rules state: "All visitors must be dressed appropriately for a prison environment. Clothing must be in good taste. All visitors must wear underwear and female visitors must wear a bra."

The I-Team saw dozens of women pass through security to visit inmates. Some would argue not all of them were dressed "appropriately."  

Len Cavise is emeritus professor of law at DePaul University. He's been to Stateville dozens of times and said the searches are arbitrary.

"You take the spectrum of possible searches and I've had experiences along all ends of that spectrum and my students have, too," Cavise said.
Cavise said Battaglia never should have been treated so poorly.

"What has to happen here is that there has to be supervisors around and the supervisors have to understand what the word discretion means and that's never come easy to guards at Stateville," Cavise said. "There has to be consequences to outrageous behavior like this."

Battaglia had been to the prison many times, dressed similarly, never with a problem. This time she had no choice but to tell the attorney she was working for about her medical background.

"I was mortified that I was even talking about it," she said. "So I left and went to the Louis Joliet Mall which is about 15 minutes away and I purchased a sports bra."

Battaglia said she returned to the prison and endured another intense search before being allowed in.

She has filed this complaint with the Illinois Department of Corrections and the state Office of Executive Inspector General.

"It was inexcusable what they did. I have very thick skin and not much gets to me and I just felt absolutely violated with what she did," she said.

The employee has been reassigned, IDOC officials said Thursday.

Nicole Wilson, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman, released a statement:

The employee involved in the incident has been reassigned and we are taking steps to ensure staff receives additional training so we can better assist visitors that require special accommodations.

The Department of Corrections has established rules and regulations that are designed to promote orderly operations within our facilities while protecting the safety and security of our guests, staff, and inmates. However, we understand there is sometimes a need for special accommodations.

We apologize to Ms. Battaglia for her experience at Stateville and because this has been brought to our attention, we will review and adjust our policies accordingly.

Full IDOC Dress Code

All visitors must be dressed appropriately for a prison environment or the visit will not be permitted. Clothing must be in good taste and not advertise or suggest any items in such a manner to signify a Security Threat Group or other illegal activity. Visitors should not wear clothing that is sexually explicit, offensive, or degrading. All visitors must wear underwear and female visitors must wear a bra. Visitors should not wear clothing which reveals the buttocks or breasts.

Examples of inappropriate dress for visitors are: short shirts or dresses, wrap around skirts, see through clothing, see-through or low-cut blouses, tube tops, halter tops, tank tops, swim suits or swim suit tops, short shorts, clothing with "cutouts" or leggings. Dresses or skirts should extend to the knees.

Visitors may be permitted to wear religious headgear if there is no safety or security concerns, the headgear has been removed and thoroughly searched, the visitor has indicated that the headgear has religious significance, and the headgear is a kufi, yarmulke, turban, habit, or fez. Headgear other than those specified may be permitted to wear if a written request is submitted to the Chief Administrative Officer at least 10 days prior to the visit and the Chief Administrative Officer approves the request. Failure to submit a timely request shall result in denial of the request.


Offline me

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2015, 10:14:06 AM »
So the guard has been reassigned - but what about the supervisor that she checked with and agreed with her?? 

Offline tkesde1

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2015, 12:59:19 PM »
So the guard has been reassigned - but what about the supervisor that she checked with and agreed with her?? 

From my experience, it rolls downhill, I'm familiar with that.

The patdowns are a part of going in, I had a large cut on my leg that required an extra large bandaid and I waited until I was in there before I put it on because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of taking it off and going back to the car to get another. Last summer, I had a meter implanted in my side for medical reasons, I knew it would set off the alarm and I wouldn't want to be touched in that area so I brought a letter from the doctor with me explaining the device and what it was for, everybody was very accommodating, and I had no problems going in with it.

Sometimes we have to remember that the C.O.'s have jobs where people try to do all kinds of things that we cannot imagine to get stuff past them. After a while, they become jaded and assume everybody is trying to get stuff past them and they forget the human element. I think a rotation out was definitely called for, but I can understand being under that pressure all day every day, you get rigid with the rules. I think that's when it's time for that person to step aside and let someone else do that job for a while.
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Offline sonshine

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2015, 10:44:50 PM »
I've been pretty lucky at pinckneyville....they know me so well that it's just a light pat down...now they don't even check inside my pockets which I would never try to take anything in..thats just stupid...I don't know why people would want to risk their visits...but they do...but I also know that the cos know who is honest...

Offline sdm

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2015, 11:16:45 AM »
Oh my word what a horrible thing to go through!  Menard did the same thing to me but for having on a sport bra last winter.  We had to leave and go to the little strip mall and buy one at Dollar General. Wow to have to go that far with a breast cancer survivor how sad!

Offline StayinTrue2Him

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2015, 02:16:32 PM »
That is indeed terrible what that woman who has had a mastectomy went through but,the CO's have come across all kinds of things there at Stateville...You wouldn't believe the ways people have tried to get things in. It does help,as Sonshine stated,for the CO's to know you from your visiting so often...They barely even pat me down at the "Ville anymore as they have gotten to know me on a first name basis. I especially agree with what tkesde1 posted about how "the CO's become jaded assuming everyone is trying to get stuff past them and forget the human element..." It is a high pressure job but if she wasn't able to endure it anymore,maybe it was time for that female CO to resign. I know I will never,ever do anything to risk losing our visits...That would kill both of us...Our situation with his lengthy sentence is already hard enough for us to deal with as it is :wc17:
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Offline smme7

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Re: Stateville Prison Guard Reassigned After "Outrageous" Security Stop
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2015, 10:29:40 PM »
I think when they pull your name up they can see how often you come. I've had Co's shake my hair 0ut and others barely pat me down. And you can tell the difference between the cos that have been doing this for years and the ones that are newer to the job.
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