Illinois advocates call for action after prison officials mislead on contaminated water

Read the full story in The Appeal.

Community members are condemning the Illinois Department of Corrections for housing people in unsafe conditions after Legionella bacteria was found in five state prisons last month, with some expressing concern that state officials have misled the public about the extent of the contamination. 

On March 11, IDOC and the Illinois Department of Public Health released a joint press release announcing that Legionella bacteria had been detected in two prisons—Stateville Correctional Center and Joliet Treatment Center. Legionella is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia.

But in response to The Appeal’s questions, an IDOC spokesperson confirmed that water in a total of five prisons had tested positive for Legionella in March. Lab reports provided to The Appeal show that test results for those facilities were returned between March 4 and March 11—all on or before the date of the press release. In addition to Stateville and Joliet, the bacteria was also found in Graham Correctional CenterKewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center, and Stateville Northern Reception and Classification Center (Stateville NRC).

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