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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Prisoner's death raises questions!

11-13-2003 Illinois:

Linda McDowell doesn't ask you to like her brother. She doesn't ask you to pity his impoverished upbringing. She doesn't ask you to excuse his violent crimes. She doesn't ask you to shed any tears. But she does want you to question his death.

Preston McDowell, 35, died last month at a Peoria hospital from injuries suffered at Pontiac Correctional Center. The Illinois State Police are investigating the death, which followed a scuffle with prison guards.

On Oct. 18, McDowell got into a scrap with another inmate in a cell at the maximum-security prison. Guards interceded, and McDowell ended up at a Pontiac hospital. He was soon transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he died a week later. ..more.. by Phil Luciano


Sex offender, 35, battered in prison


Illinois state officials are investigating whether officers at Pontiac Correctional Center severely beat an inmate last week, the Journal Star reported.

Preston McDowell, a 35-year-old repeated sex offender, has been at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria since Saturday. The hospital would not release any information about McDowell; however, sources said his beating was severe, resulting in multiple injuries. Sergio Molina, chief spokesman for the Illinois DOC, declined to talk in detail about McDowell. However, he did say, "This case is currently under investigation."

Sources told the Journal Star that Illinois State Police have been interviewing officers at Pontiac Correctional Center all week and that criminal charges against an unspecified number of officers are possible.

Sources say McDowell threatened another prisoner, and officers soon swarmed the two inmates. McDowell, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds, was repeatedly battered. He was sent to OSF Saint James Medical Center in Pontiac, then transferred to St. Francis.
No one else was injured in the beating. No officers have been suspended.

Pontiac Correctional Center is a maximum-security prison that houses inmates disciplined for infractions while in the custody of the Corrections Department. Some inmates are kept in single cells, while others have one cellmate. All prisoners are confined to cells a minimum of 23 hours a day. Some are allowed an hour of recreation, but troublemakers are kept behind bars around the clock.

Information was unavailable Thursday about McDowell's cell status and in-prison record.

McDowell has been serving time in Pontiac for two crimes. In 1991, he was sentenced in Winnebago County to 15 years' imprisonment for criminal sexual assault with force. In 1994, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for aggravated battery with great bodily harm. That case was adjudicated in Will County, which at the time hosted two state prisons, and the battery could have occurred in prison.

The corrections web site lists his projected parole date as March 17, 2007. It also states he is on "medical furlough." McDowell's prison record also includes a six-year term for deviate sexual assault in Cook County in 1983.

Illinois State Police declined to discuss the investigation. ..Source.. by Peoria Journal Star


Inmate's death raises questions


Convict feared prisoners were going to carry out `a hit' on him because guards wanted him dead

There's no question about how Preston McDowell lived--his own family describes him as a dangerous and troubled man--but little is known about how he died at Pontiac Correctional Center in October.

The Peoria County coroner lists "lack of oxygen to the brain" as the official cause of death, but provides no other information. The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois State Police, who are investigating his death, also offer no explanation for how McDowell, an otherwise healthy man with a few years left on a rape sentence, wound up brain-dead in St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. ..Source.. by Rudolph Bush, Tribune staff reporter.


Health Care in Illinois Prisons

There are several well-documented cases of prisoners with severe psychiatric problems or mental retardation being physically abused by prison security staff. One well documented case at Pontiac in which the prisoner, Preston McDowell, was beaten to death by guards at Pontiac CC is still under investigation by the Illinois State Police three and a half years later following the determination by a Peoria County Coroner’s Jury that the death was a result of homicide by the guards.

Unless a prisoner dies as a result of a beating, however, there is no independent review of such beatings. Even in the case of another prisoner at Pontiac CC whose severe beating has been well documented by medical staff, there is no internal or independent outside investigation of the crime. ..more.. by

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