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Group: Too few staffers at prison for sex offenders

Published: Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – There are too few clinical staff members at a southern Illinois prison that houses sex offenders, according to a prison-rights advocacy group.

The report by the John Howard Association said Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina is “chronically understaffed” when it comes to sex offender treatment programs.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reported the facility has only three clinical staff members working with nearly 300 sex offenders.

That means inmates may not be getting enough pre-release treatment while others might be lingering in the medium-security men’s facility for longer than necessary because they haven’t been able to receive clinical care.

“Many exceptional, dedicated staff members at Big Muddy run programming while facing tremendous adversity and a chronic lack of vital resources,” the group said in its report

Comparatively, another prison in Rushville that’s operated by the Illinois Department of Human Services has 30 clinical care employees.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer said the agency was working to resolve staffing issues at Big Muddy.

“The IDOC remains committed to providing constitutionally adequate mental health treatment to offenders and others committed to our care by the courts,” he said in a statement.

Big Muddy has about 1,900 inmates, most of whom are serving the final parts of their prison terms.

Authorities say 173 inmates have been committed to a “sexually dangerous persons” program while another 94 inmates are in a separate voluntary sex offender program.

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