Fox Lake Reporter # 7

September 2020

Editor’s notes:  16 Sept 

Today Secretary Carr had a ‘virtual town hall’ meeting – basically ended up being a pretty controlled press conference.  He did announce an expansion of the ERP program.  I think details will be posted for you soon, but it’s a small step in helping everyone who was given ERP in their sentencing a chance to make use of the program.  The Secretary did not respond to a question about PRC staff blocking individual applications (as you have been writing about) so I suggest you continue writing directly to Madison to bring up the problem!

KS (127475) 8/21/2020 4:01:32 AM Absurdities  Jason’s Story

So I gashed my knee at recreation. Running.  Suddenly I was dizzy and before I could do much the ground was rushing at my face. Scraped the hell out of my hands too trying to protect it. 

     The Sgt. saw me fall and asked if I needed help. I declined but when they ended rec. After I’d been 15 minutes or so in the shade trying to shake it without success, I told the Sgt. I didn’t think I could make it back to the unit on my own. She called Patrol and they took me instead to H.S.U. (Health Services Unit)

       A nurse cleaned my wounds, gave me some water and took my vitals after a half hour. All normal. I asked if I needed to sign a disbursement. She replied, “You know what’s coming you don’t need to sign anything.” 

     5 days later I received an unsigned disbursement charging me $7.50 for a copay. About two week’s wages for most of us.

     Someone told me I wasn’t supposed to be charged a copay when staff initiated the visit I wrote the H.S.U. manager, Candace Whitman, to ask for a refund. She didn’t respond. 

       So I filed a grievance. Included the unsigned money disbursement and the copy of the letter to Candace Whitman date stamped with “Forward to H.S.U. manager,” scrawled in some nurse’s hand across the bottom. The “Investigator” dismissed it saying that I asked to go to H.S.U. and that I’d never contacted Candace Whitman. 

       So I enclosed the incident report in my appeal which states, “Inmate refused H.S.U. but wasn’t able to return to the unit so H.S.U. was called.” 

      They dismissed my appeal writing that I had signed the disbursement, which if you recall, bears no signature at all. 

      And if all that were not absurd enough I later read that policy says that if you are hurt at rec. you are subject to a copay. 

      So maybe they preferred simply denying  facts that were clearly established in the record to highlighting the deeper absurdity of having a healthcare policy which penalises prisoners for exercising to stay healthy.      

~ Jason Gremminger.

   A bigger issue is the grievance system itself. These systems were a recommendation of committees studying a rash of prison riots in the 1970’s which observed that they did not have a productive means of having issues addressed.

   The point of a grievance system was to keep frustrations in a very stressful environment from boiling over by giving prisoners a  productive avenue for redress of grievances.

    Now that system is exacerbating those frustrations instead and taxpayers foot the bill for the healthy salaries of complaint examiners to do so. *(See the purposes section of their job description below)  

   Lying to people who know you are lying doesn’t usually abate frustration. And it certainly doesn’t exemplify responsible behavior. And this is not an isolated but a typical example of the kind of double talk and prevarication examiners regularly use when answering prisoner’s grievances. 

     They know there is very little prisoners can do about it because it costs them more than a year’s wages to file a grievance in court. The DOC has petitioned the statehouse for absolute power and almost no oversight and has received, practically without question, nearly that. This grievance process was supposed to be the check on abuse that always accompanies absolute power. Didn’t work out. 

     So what? Well for one what is the point of making taxpayers pay for an entire compliant department which countermands its reason for existing? Seems an awful waste of money.

   And most of these prisoners will be back on the street. So instead of honest, responsible behaviors and accountability they have had the  opposite behaviors and a lack of accountability modelled for them.


 *   According to DOC Adm. Code 310.01 (2) which describes the purpose for the grievance system in paragraphs (a) through (h), partially paraphrased below as: 

(a) to allow inmates an orderly avenue to redress significant issues.. 

(b) Giving the department a chance to address a civil rights issue before it ends up in the  court system. 

(c) “to encourage communication between staff.”

(d) “develop inmates’ sense of involvement in and respect for the … correctional process.” (As blatantly lying to people who know you are      lying often does)

(e) “to explain correctional policy to inmates and staff.”

(f) “to afford inmates and staff the opportunity to review correctional policy …and gain further  insight into the correctional system.”

(g) “to correct errors and deficiencies in correctional policy through …questioning and review.” (Where to start with that one!)

(h) “to allow inmates to raise civil rights grievances.”

Another FLCI Inmate  8/19/2020 12:35:32 AM

In the last few months at FLCI, the kitchen has been substituting “fish crumbles” in the place of our taco meat on taco day, or in place of the chicken salad on that meal’s day. Fish crumbles are basically the broken up tiny crumbs and bits of breaded fish patty you might see when you look in the box or bag after you remove the fish patties from the box. They are the little leftover bits most people throw away as inedible. Most recently, the last 2 Fridays in a row (at the time of this writing), we have had these fish crumbles for our Friday fish meal. This might not be so bad if it was mostly fish, but typically it is about 80% or more breading bits, 20% or less fish bits. This doesn’t leave much protein or nutritional value in the meal. They have even gone so far as to edit the menu so it now reads “4oz of fish” instead of “2 fish patties” as it used to. There is a rumor Mr. Pahl (I’m not 100% sure if this spelling is correct) who runs our food service has bought a pallet or two of this “fish crumbles” mess and intends to feed it to us for the foreseeable future. I know there have been a number of request slips sent to the kitchen in complaint of this, and at least a few ICI papers filed too. So far, no action has been taken by the administration of FLCI to address or solve this issue. I hope by writing this, I can encourage more of my neighbors to raise a complaint about this by sending complaints to the kitchen and the new warden, as well as filing ICI’s about this issue. They are trying to cut corners to save a buck anywhere they can, and always at our expense. If we sit back and do nothing, it won’t be long before the seagulls around here who eat out of the dumpsters will be getting more nutritious and filling meals than the inmates who eat the state appointed chow in the servery.

 9/4/2020 11:59:32 PM

A couple weeks ago, I sent in a report about the fish crumbles they were serving us on Fridays and randomly as a substitute for the meat on meals like the tacos. Since then, my ICI paper came back denied because 1) the supervisor of the kitchen told our ICI lady that he never got any complaints about the fish crumbles which is false since I wrote him directly 3 times before submitting an ICI form, and 2) the  kitchen claims the crumbles contain the same nutritional value as it is the same fish we got in solid form, just all shredded up. Now if its the same thing, why shred it up at all?! But, between my ICI, other inmates writing stacks of complaints directly to the kitchen, and my family calling the warden about this topic, they have since stopped shredding the fish into crumbles and give us chunks of fish, which is an upgrade. It just goes to show we inmates do have some power to change our environment, and we don’t have to always roll over as the doc and their staff decide to press us to see what liberties and acts of human decency they can reduce or remove before we complain loud enough. As the song says: “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.”

Anonymous 9/5/2020 11:15:32 PM wrote 

Is there anything we can do to try and get some issues fixed, acknowledged, and hopefully able to find some sort of resolution for the following problems/issues??

1.) How & When can we get Our contact visits back with Our families again?? Video-Visits do Not come close to the feeling and fulfillment of that of our normal visits when we are able to hug, be in the presence of our loved ones sitting across from us, giving us the strength and reason to keep going on..  The Community’s newsletter a few months ago, mentioned the DOC was planning on opening back up contact visits once again, only with limited contact and only 2 visitor limits for each visit, and only for one to two hours long. But no one seems to have any knowledge of this here that I’ve asked. The 30 minute Video-Visit every 2 weeks that freeze up, and are very hard to hear your visitor, and same for them, isn’t

feasible. It is just as important to our families as it is to us, for that brief physical contact, and in person visit to draw strength from during our time away from each other. How do we get anyone to listen??

2.) We aren’t able to file complaints about the Union Supply never having all the items we order, not letting us know they are out of stock on items we order so we have the option of ordering something different, and EVERY week, or Canteen week for each unit, they ALWAYS are out of many items!! How can a Business always be out of items when they are the ONLY place we are allowed to order from?? I filed a I.C.E and it was rejected because supposedly the DOC doesn’t have any say or anything to do with the vendor?? Crazy…..  

3.) The same thing goes for the IC Solutions phone company. Everyone has had the same issues with this service ever since it started, and has only been getting worse. Our people try to press #5 on their phones to accept our calls, and it won’t let them. And then there are times it Does let them press their 5 button on their phone to accept, But there is just dead air and we get charged the money for the minutes, PLUS it counts as one of our limited calls they give us for the day here. At least 1 to 2 of my calls everyday either cuts off, we hear dialing going on from someone else, or the damn automated voice recording operator pops on interrupting our calls at least twice within 15 minutes (length of our calls) and sometimes even three times!!  How can a business that makes so much money from us and our people, have any problems at all like this?? And no one cares!! Our families try to call them and complain, but just get the round around or ignored. The customer service operators are very rude to our families, and nothing is corrected or changes. Maybe someone knows, or has ideas what we can do about these very reasonable & valid concerns/issues??? Thanks for any suggestions or resources available…