Shipment to prison, reception & classification in prison upon arrival, prison in general, sentence calculation 

PLEASE NOTE: A kind reader has sent me information to correct this article as follows:

C transfer”  DOES NOT have anything to do with them being transferred to prison. C transfer means they are currently in movement – housing division is being changed, out for court, etc and “c disch” means they are currently in the holding cell and being processed out of the county jail… Hence “disch” = discharged.  Therefore it can also mean they are in holding cell waiting for transfer to prison.

If a detainee has been sentenced to at least a year in jail for a felony crime they are shipped to the Illinois Department of Corrections penitentiary system (IDOC). Men  go to Statesville Reception and Classification Center (R&C) and women go to Dwight Correctional Center’s Reception and Classification Center. These R&C Centers are prisons within a prison.

At R&C the convict must stay at least 61 days before release, EVEN IF they have 0 days to serve as they were granted all days served while in jail pretrial. This is grossly unfair, but has resulted from the utter failure of the State of Illinois to update its IDOC computer system and jail computer systems so that information is efficiently sent from jails to prisons.

Sentences are calculated as follows:  Take the day of sentencing and count back the number of days they were given credit for time in jail. This is their official prison entry date. If you were sentenced on January 30, 2011 and given 30 days jail credits, your official entry date for the IDOC records will be January 1, 2011.  Then you are automatically given day for day good time credit, unless you were convicted of murder where you must do 100 % of your sentence, or you were convicted of a very violent crime or certain other serious crimes that by statute dictate that you must do 85 % of your sentence. In that case you can only get 4 days good time credit for each month in prison automatically taken off your sentence. Your out date (release date) on the IDOC prisoner look-up part of the web site will list this out date.

So if the calculated entry date to IDOC was January 1, 2011 and you were shipped there January 31, 2011 for a one year sentence with 30 days of jail credit, you will be released 180 days (6 months) later or June 1, 2011.

Law also allows the prison to give you meritorious good time prison credits. Two sets of 90 days maximum or another six months off of your sentence (MGT = meritorious good time credit and SMGT = supplemental meritorious good time credits). This is supposed to encourage inmates to have good behavior and better themselves.   However, this has been temporarily suspended. Until late 2010, this was automatically given, unless the days were removed after a due process disciplinary hearing by the disciplinary committee for a disciplinary ticket (a citation for violation of prison rules such as swearing, insubordination, failure to obey an order, fighting, possessing contraband, etc). The Governor has instructed the new Director of IDOC to make a plan to re-instate the availability of obtaining these credits. New rules have been suggested by a committee formed to analyze this and they are hoping to pass new laws and institute these new rules in 2011. Likely, a person will have to be in the prison at least 61 days before they can be granted MGT credits. You can also earn good time credits by obtaining a GED or for saving someone’s life during a crisis like a tornado.

Unfortunately almost all rehabilitation programs providing education were canceled decades ago. Now you can only get a GED class, learn sewing, barbering, dog training, and learn to build certain types of furniture if you are a man.

At R & C, the prison convict, in violation of statute is not allowed to make ANY phone calls when they are first transferred to prison. Illinois Statute guarantees a prisoner may make a short call to family and attorney whenever they are transferred to another jail, prison, or to a hospital. Cook County Jail and the IDOC prison system routinely commit a class A misdemeanor each time they violate this law. They violate it with every new transfer to the IDOC system.  Transfers are not announced ahead of time. This is for security reasons. The IDOC does not want gang members to be able to plan how to help a convict escape on the way to or f rom prison.

When the convict arrives at the R & C center, they are given one (1) postcard to mail to family or attorney giving their location and mailing address. They are not allowed any phone calls until they submit a list of people they wish to call, the list is investigated and approved, and the inmate is so informed. They may not make calls while they are in segregation for a disciplinary violation, except for once a month or as determined by disciplinary rules.

The purpose of the R & C center is to examine and classify the convict. Each person is given a medical and dental exam and chest X-ray with HIV and hepatitis tests. They are disciplined if they refuse to cooperate. Generally, the jails fail to send medical information with the inmate, so anything that was provided in the jail may not be immediately provided in the prison. It is very important to tell the screeners immediately if you have any  specific medical or dietary needs and your allergies.

The prison diet is dangerous to health and there are suits pending about this.  There is no real meat except for occasional chicken. All meat is a soy bean textured protein substitute. It is generally spiced with sauces and flavorings containing MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG causes migraines to get worse and if a person suffers from a severe form of migraine, called basilar migraines, this may lead to a stroke. Even the flour is soy flour. The diet contains about 10 times more soy than a Japanese diet. This is toxic because soy protein products contain plant estrogens – (similar to female hormones). This can damage fetuses and cause infertility and feminization in men. There are also chemicals in soy that cause difficulty with digestion of certain substances and which cause vitamin deficiencies. Read the link about pending suits and explore that web site for more details.

The person is interviewed for gang affiliations and if they have any tattoos, pictures are taken and they are investigated for gang sign affiliations on their tattoos. THis goes into a gang/crime database and state law enforcement uses this information to study gangs and to try to destroy and infiltrate them, obtain intelligence about them, and ultimately arrest their members on any crime they can get them on.

The person is classified as to escape risk depending upon their crime (murder convictions are considered a high escape risk), their criminal history, as well as any previous escape attempts, failure to  appear in court, bond forfeitures, and physical abilities including whether they are boxers, martial artists ect.

The person is classified as to potential for violence and whether they need maximum, medium, or minimum security. Again the prison staff looks at the nature of their crime. Any violent crimes increase the classification level. While a convict is in R & C they are all classified as maximum security and are kept isolated from contact with the general population of prisoners. Literally R & C is a prison within a prison.

During R & C the convict may submit a list of visitors and their phone list. No visitors including attorneys may visit until the list is approved. No phone calls can be made until the list is approved. No persons who are on parole or probation may contact the convict by phone or visitation without consent from the prison warden and consent from the prison from which the contact is on parole or the parole officer.

The convict is also studied as to educational level, ability to work, and ability to get along with others. If they are transvestite or homosexual then they may be at risk and may need to be in protective custody – a form of segregation.

Then the prison staff will assign the convict to a prison and a job and they will be transported there usually within 30 to 60 days from arrival.

Whenever a maximum security prisoner is transported they are placed in maximum security restraints, even if they are paraplegic in a wheelchair. This consists of a heavy belly chain, handcuffs attached to it and a pick-proof black box over the cuffs, in addition to heavy weight ankle shackles. It doesn’t matter if the prisoner is a 90 lb invalid. They are still tortured with these restraints.

Medical care is very bad. Wexford Medical Company sends very poorly qualified doctors to provide care. They ignore all the care a person may have had from a private doctor, often refuse to give necessary medications, prescribe the cheapest drugs possible even if they were tried before and don’t work. They refuse to take the convict to appointments with their private doctors even if the doctors are on staff at UIC, their referral center and had previous care plans in place. Wexford loses money if they recommend that inmates see a referral doctor (specialist) so they refuse to allow this in general even if needed. It may take excessive time to obtain a referral even for cancer or other serious disorders. A prison sentence is often therefore a death sentence or a sentence to make the inmate suffer serious disability from lack of medical care or inadequate medical care.

Prisoners whose health is very neglected due to drug addictions or mental illness that prevented them from obtaining care on the outside may find they get better medical care, even if inadequate, than they received on the outside. On the outside many prisoners neglect their health due to mental illness or drug addiction.