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Lawsuit claims rats, bugs endanger Illinois prison detainees

February 21, 2022 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Prisoners at an Illinois Department of Corrections facility deal with rodents, insects and other unsanitary conditions in cells, bathrooms and the kitchen, according to a lawsuit filed this month by a man against officials with the intake facility in Crest Hill.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the suit on behalf of detainee Gregory Shipp also alleges that plumbing at the facility is faulty, including toilets that back up and cause raw sewage to overflow inside cells. It also accused the facility of giving prisoners spoiled or rotten food.

Department spokesman Gregory Runyan said in an email that the agency cannot comment on pending litigation.

The Uptown People’s Law Center and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP filed the suit on Shipp’s behalf.

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Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, said the organization first heard complaints about conditions at the Northern Reception and Classification Center in a 2015 survey of people held there.

Mills said the facility was intended to hold people for about a week before they are transferred to a permanent facility, but the time lengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mills said statistics suggest people are at higher risk of harming themselves or taking their own life during their first weeks in prison.

“And putting somebody in some of the very worst conditions in the entire department for those first two weeks just exaggerates all those,” he said.