Friday, Dec 6, 2013
My Brother's Keeper Prays it Forward
CENTRALIA -- Dozens gathered in Centralia Saturday for a unique rally to keep the Murray Developmental Center open.
Parents, friends, and employees of the Murray Center are calling on a higher power to keep the home of more than 200 developmentally disabled people open.
"Our philosophy is we have to be a voice for those who actually have no voice otherwise," explains My Brother's Keeper founder Marsha Griffin.
The group My Brother's Keeper originally formed to comfort those coping with the closure of Tamms prison is "praying it forward" by joining forces with Murray supporters in the fight against the governor's latest closure threat.
"We're truly believing that there will be a miracle and Murray Center will be saved, and it's what's best for the residents, and what's just, and what's right," insists Griffin.
She is hoping the outcome for Murray won't be the same as it was for Tamms. The supermax prison has now been closed for 10 months, and many against the closure believe it's caused an increase in violence throughout Illinois corrections.
The Illinois Department of Correction's numbers show there were 530 "inmate-on-staff" assaults in fiscal year 2013.
"It's the highest rate it's been in 10 years, and it's actually increased violence by 20%, so these are much more than isolated incidents," Griffin said, as she quoted recently released figures from Senator Dave Luechtefeld's office.
IDOC Spokesperson Tom Shaer explains that number is high because the department classifies any kind of contact as an assault.
"The reason we do it is so that the inmates know every thing they do, even if they so much as touch the shoe of a guard, is going to go down as an assault on their record," he says. "And that keeps them in line."
Shaer says serious assaults on staff are actually down by one and insists the closing of Tamms has had no negative effects on the Illinois prison system.
"We have a responsibility to the citizens of Illinois to run the Department of Corrections with safety, security, and cost-efficiency in mind," he says.
No matter the numbers, Griffin says My Brother's Keeper will continue to stand by the people affected from the closures.
"We truly feel that we could make a difference and we're going to keep working and we will not stop," Griffin explains.
Shaer also says there are 10% more inmates now than 10 years ago, and overall serious assaults on staff and inmates are down 35% in the last year.
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