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Advocates claim mold at Pontiac prison forced inmates to move. IDOC says that's false

FILE - This Aug. 20, 2008 file photo shows the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Ill.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
FILE - This Aug. 20, 2008 file photo shows the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Ill.

Inmates at the Pontiac prison's medium-security unit have been moved, and prisoner advocates believe it's because of a black mold outbreak — a claim the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) denies.

Colin Morrin is with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. He said inmates have complained of mold in their cells, showers and day rooms for two months.

“I’ve just been hearing about lung and respiratory issues like aggravation of coughing, phlegm and lung problems,” Morrin said.

The group said the prison hasn't been testing for black mold even though inmates have requested it. The committee said IDOC replied to their inquiries by saying the facilities are being closed for deferred maintenance.

IDOC rejected the group’s claims of mold and associated health problems. “These claims regarding black mold and respiratory issues are not true,”said IDOC chief of staff Camile Lindsay. ”To date, 156 people have been transferred from the (medium-security unit) to Pontiac proper due to a lack of hot water and heat."

The advocacy group said it was told some inmates have been transferred to the state prison in Centralia, but Morrin said it’s not clear from IDOC whether the moves are temporary.

“They are more interested in, first off, punitive, second off, a secret agenda that doesn’t really do much as far as bringing these folks back into the general population,” Morrin said.

Previous media reports have indicated IDOC plans to close the medium-security unit to reduce the Pontiac prison's capacity by more than 60%.

Copyright 2022 WGLT. To see more, visit WGLT.

Eric Stock is WGLT (Bloomington-Normal public radio) News Director.