Eight Illinois prisons cited with water violations

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Eight prisons in Illinois were charged with Environmental Protection Agency violations for water containing Legionnaires disease.

Several prisoner rights groups claim the water at the Pontiac correctional center is unsafe for inmates, staff and visitors.

In 2022, prison advocacy groups urged Governor JB Pritzker to address concerns about the presence of Legionella, a bacteria that can be can be deadly for about one in ten people, according to the CDC.

But the Pontiac prison isn’t the only one where the problem might exist. There are seven others cited which totaled 120 violations.

According to lawyer Alan Mills, the water is so bad, you could physically see the contamination.

“Prisoners would in fact take their t-shirts, run water through them, and show me the black particles that were on the t-shirts after they rang it out of their sink,” said Mills.

We reached out to the Illinois Department of Corrections. In a statement to 25News Wednesday, they said the IEPA violations are not about contaminants.

According to the Coalition to Decarcerate Illinois, that answer doesn’t address the bigger concern of clean water.

“All that’s doing is creating a sense of paranoia for our folks inside,” said spokesperson David Moran. “I’ll reiterate for a state that’s supposed to care for its citizens with undrinkable water with horrible levels of sanitation.”

The IEPA did not respond to 25News for comment.