- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A convicted murderer who was among the last inmates incarcerated at the now-closed Tamms supermaximum-security prison stabbed three prison guards at another penitentiary with a homemade knife Monday, the Illinois Department of Corrections said.

The attack came less than two days after a disturbance Saturday night across the state at a juvenile detention facility in Kewanee. It involved more than a dozen inmates who kicked out windows and threatened staff with glass shards, according to a union representative.

There were no serious injuries reported in that skirmish. The Department of Juvenile Justice refused to comment beyond saying an investigation is underway.

In Monday’s incident, three tactical-team officers at Pontiac Correctional Center were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening at a local hospital after the confrontation at about 11:50 a.m., Corrections Department spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said.

The inmate is serving a sentence for murder and aggravated battery and is not scheduled for release until 2038. Records maintained by The Associated Press show that the man was housed at the Tamms Correctional Center, the high-security lockup for violent and disruptive inmates that closed for budget reasons in late 2012.

Opponents of closing Tamms had argued that the supermax facility was the best way to prevent attacks by violent inmates while keeping both prisoners and prison guards safe. Those who wanted it closed argued its punishment was too harsh.

The AP is not naming the 53-year-old inmate, who’s been behind bars since 1987, because he has not been charged in the stabbing. But Wilson said, “The IDOC takes all staff assaults seriously and has every intention to pursue charges against the inmate.”

Wilson said the inmate’s Tamms record included more than a dozen attacks on officers, including spitting, throwing urine and feces, pinching and clawing an officer’s face.

Anders Lindall, spokesman for the state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents prison and youth-center officers, bemoaned the two episodes - and an inmate attack reported by the union recently at the Stateville Correctional Center.

They “are sobering reminders of the dangers faced daily by the men and women who serve our state in the departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice,” Lindall said, adding the union will continue working for public protection and what it considers sufficient staffing.

Pontiac staff members received a tip that the inmate had a homemade weapon in his cell but when they approached, he refused to be handcuffed and hid under his bed, Wilson said. Tactical-team members wearing protective gear then entered the cell and while restraining him, the inmate stabbed each of the unnamed officers with a metal shank, she said.

One suffered three puncture wounds in the right leg and two in the left leg. Another had one puncture wound in the hand and one in the forearm. The third officer was stabbed in the wrist.

At Kewanee, a group of 17 maximum-security inmates aged 18 to 21 kicked out windows and used glass shards as weapons to threaten employees Saturday night, Lindall said, citing employee reports. One female officer was forced to “flee her post in fear for her personal safety,” he said.

Juvenile Justice spokeswoman Veronica Vera on Monday would say only that the agency is “investigating the events over the weekend” at Kewanee.

___

Contact John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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