Lawsuit filed by inmates over suspended debate classes

Inmates of Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill have filed a lawsuit for the suspended debate classes in the facility. The lawsuit claims that the Illinois Department of Corrections officials have violated their basis rights. They say that their first amendment has been violated by shutting down the debate classes.

The lawsuit had been filed on Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court and major prison administration figures have been named in the lawsuit. The group of inmates have named Illinois Department of Correction’s Acting Director John Baldwin, Assistant Director Gladyse Taylor and three other employees as the defendants.

The inmates that have filed the lawsuit claim that the officials have violated their basic rights and have not given them right to exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech. They say that they have violated their rights in retaliation of exercising the rights in the first place. The debate classes were suspended when some inmates had talked about the topic of parole to a crowd that included legislators as well.

One of the inmates Brad Thomson say that the inmates had not violated or broken any law. They were just advocating about parole to the public. He says that this had angered the Illinois Department of Correction officials. He says that it could become very dangerous if state actors start retaliating to people over difference in political views.

According to the lawsuit, there were 14 students in the debate class started at the prison in October 2017. Lester Dobbey, Joseph Dole, Raul Dorado, Benard McKinley and Eugene Ross were some of the 15 students in that class. On March 21, 2018 a class was arranged that was open to the public and some legislators had also come to the class. In that class, inmates had given some proposals regarding parole.

Senior writer at the Chicago Morning Star

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