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Local News

Jail birds damage Stateville prison docs in Crest Hill

IDOC seeking vendor to clean documents damaged by bird droppings, weather

CREST HILL – Birds have apparently made a mess at the Stateville Correctional Center – and the Illinois Department of Corrections needs somebody to clean up the mess.

IDOC’s Crest Hill prison is seeking a vendor to “clean and restore specific documents and records that may have been damaged due to bird droppings and other weather-related circumstances,” according to a bid invitation posted March 25 on the state’s procurement bulletin.

Some of the documents are labeled as activity logbooks for various prison units, according to photos attached to the bid invitation. IDOC spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said the state agency became aware of the problem in July 2014. There’s pending litigation against IDOC, Wilson said.

The issue extends well beyond the damaged documents, Alan Mills, executive director with Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago, said in an email Thursday.

“The ‘bird problem’ is not limited to documents in storage,” Mills wrote, noting how the same bird infestation is an issue in the living units – particularly in F House.

That unit is the subject of two cases. One was filed by the Uptown People’s Law Center on conditions in solitary in F House. Another lawsuit has been filed by the Chicago-based law firm Loevy & Loevy on conditions at Stateville Correctional Center generally, he said.

Sarah Grady, a lead attorney with Loevy & Loevy on the case, was not immediately available for comment Thursday evening.

Kenneth Harris, public service administrator at the Crest Hill prison, said Thursday he’s been in his post since December and that the recovery of documents “has been a high priority.”

The circumstances surrounding the damaged documents are unclear, and Wilson did not provide many details in an email Thursday.

“Since taking office, Governor Rauner and current IDOC officials have recognized this is a serious matter and, as the solicitation overview suggests, the Department is taking a proactive approach to have the documents cleaned and restored,” Wilson said in an email.

Bid documents note the purpose is to “restore damaged books and records to a condition that is clean and legible.” The invitation states the resulting contract will “have an initial term of 9 months,” and “in no event will the total term of the contract … exceed ten (10) years.”

The bid is sectioned into two parts: one for the restoration and another requesting pricing to digitally scan all the documents once they are restored, Harris said.

Harris said Thursday he could not comment on specifics. Wilson and Harris both declined to say how many pages required cleaning or how long they were in their current state before they were discovered.

Bid documents show the books and records are “stored in several rooms within the facility,” and amount to 83 “banker boxes,” 97 “smaller boxes” and about 100 stacked 8½-by-11-inch envelopes.

A site visit is mandatory for all bidders. A pre-bid meeting is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Stateville Correctional Center, 16830 S. Route 53 in Crest Hill, according to the bid invitation. Bids are due April 8.

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