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Out Here

Prison employees voice their opinions

Dixon prison employees don't like when we run letters to the editor from inmate Tiberius Mays.

This week, we ran a story about how the state denied Mays' Freedom of Information Act request for 15 grievances filed by prison employees.

The state's attorney general determined that the grievances are public records, but the department stood its ground. We made the same request, which the agency also denied.

On Sauk Valley Media's Facebook page, six correctional officers at the Dixon prison have written against our decision to publish letters from Mays, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for attempted murder and armed robbery. Another six employees "liked" a comment on our page opposing publication.

A correctional officer sent me an email because I wrote this week's story.

"You have no idea who this guy [Mays] is and what he really wants the information for," the officer wrote. "He has nothing to do all day but find ways to file and complain. We as taxpayers pay everything for this guy, including healthcare…"

"Because you and the paper print this stuff, my family and I, along with my co-workers, will never pay for your paper. You should be ashamed of yourself and hide your face in this town. Maybe your time would be better spent watching what goes on at city hall."

We're not defending what Mays did. Rather, the issue is open government.

The Corrections Department has acknowledged 15 employee grievances at the Dixon prison. What are the issues? Are employees being treated fairly? Do the grievances reveal problems that taxpayers should know about?

Our goal is not to invade employees' privacy. It is to shed light on public issues.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.

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