Groups Call for Water Infrastructure Testing in IL Prisons
Friday, July 15, 2022
After reports of water contamination in Illinois prisons, groups are calling on the state to conduct a top-down review of the water and sewer systems in the facilities.
The state's Capital Development Board is currently conducting an assessment of prison infrastructure needs, with the goal of identifying structural updates needed for its facilities.
Jennifer Vollen Katz, executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA), said the review should include water infrastructure. The JHA is one of six advocacy groups calling to expand the assessment.
"The State of Illinois has not made the resources available to provide ongoing maintenance and upkeep for these facilities," Vollen Katz contended. "Many of them are very old, and haven't had attention paid to their physical plant infrastructure in many, many years."
A recent investigation by The Appeal revealed the water at five Illinois prisons was infected with Legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires' disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), there were more than 27,500 people in the prison system as of the end of March.
Vollen Katz contended, aside from the Legionella contamination, the IDOC has not been transparent about prior water-quality issues. She argued any updates to prisons' drinking water and sewer infrastructure should be subject to public review.
"We don't have a good understanding, and there doesn't seem to be ongoing public inspection, of water systems inside our prisons," Vollen Katz stated.
In prisons across the country, water quality has been a concern for incarcerated people and their advocates, as well as those who work in the facilities. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, one-third of state and federal prisons are built within three miles of a Superfund site, where pollution is serious enough to warrant a federal response.
get more stories like this via email
A Nevada democracy watchdog group said social media, blogs, websites and hyperpartisan news organizations are all working overtime to spread …
Education officials in Ohio want state leaders to invest in free school meals for all students. Pandemic-era federal waivers enabling schools to …
Agriculture researchers say if the U.S. wants more farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices, they will need to be offered some proven incentives…
As the fall harvest season takes shape in South Dakota, an agricultural specialist said there are many ways motorists and farmers can avoid crashes …
Massachusetts residents are being asked to step up, just as they did five years ago, to help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. The …
It's been more than 50 years since the White House held a gathering about the effects of hunger across the nation. In 1969, the White House held its …
By Caleigh Wells for KCRW.Broadcast version by Suzanne Potter for California News Service reporting for the KCRW-Public News Service Collaboration Wh…
As the midterm elections approach, there are concerns about whether Latino voters will turn out as much as they have in past elections. In New York…