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Report: Conditions Getting Dangerous At Menard Prison

Prison fence

(CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS)The Chicago-based John Howard Association prison watchdog group says the Menard Correctional Center downstate is becoming increasingly dangerous.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, the group’s new report on Menard was based on a visit to Menard in June. It says the prison has too many inmates and too few guards, making it the Illinois prison with the worst inmate to staff ratio among medium security facilities.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

The report says there have been 14 assaults at Menard since the first of the year.

The 133-year-old prison is designed to hold less than 3,100 inmates, but it has a population of 3,621 according to the report. In the population are more than 2,000 convicted killers, more than at any other Illinois prison.

The report also said prison administrators placed the entire facility on lockdown for almost half the year, which means inmates have to spend 21 to 22 hours a day locked in their cells, the Bloomington Pantagraph reported. The group says is makes for a tense and potentially violent atmosphere at the prison, the newspaper reported.

The Illinois Department of Corrections disputed the report, saying the size of Menard’s inmate population must be taken into consideration when comparing it with other prisons.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)