Correctional center locked down for periodic check

Review called ‘all-encompassing, covering every square foot,’ for security, maintenance

DIXON – Dixon Correctional Center has been on lockdown for more than a week because of an unscheduled, periodic check, a state official said Monday.

Tom Shaer, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, said the local reviews are for security and maintenance reasons.

“IDOC does these random checks to keep inmates in compliance with all rules, to be sure staff are following procedure and to give attention to the physical plant,” Shaer wrote in an email.

The lockdown, which started April 21, could continue through this week, he said.

“The review is all-encompassing, covering every square foot of Dixon CC,” Shaer wrote. “Because we are very proactive and have a consistent plan of unscheduled procedures, it’s possible we wouldn’t have had a facility-wide, weeks-long procedure every year. But we have necessary and thorough security at all times.”

According to the state prison’s website, the lockdown means limited visits at the men’s medium security prison, which has about 2,400 inmates.

The lockdown is considered partial, a status now shared by other state prisons in Canton and Joliet. The prison in Menard is on full lockdown, which means no visits are allowed.

Shaer said the state had found that a greater number of unscheduled security checks on every square foot of smaller areas was effective in ensuring that inmates complied with the rules and did not have contraband, and that staff followed all procedures.

Still, the larger-scale check, such as the one now in Dixon, is also effective “when it makes sense.”

Sometimes lockdowns are driven by particular incidents. In 2007, for instance, the Dixon prison was locked down for more than a week after workers found an anonymous letter threatening guards.