© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 105.7 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Second Drug Exposure for Thomson Prison Officers

Thomson prison overhead view.jpeg
US Bureau of Prisons
federal prison in Thomson, Illinois

For the second time in three weeks, a guard at the Thomson prison in northwestern Illinois has been hospitalized after being exposed to drugs while screening mail for inmates.

John Zumkehr, president of Local 40-70 of the American Federation of Government Employees, says the officer was exposed Tuesday, rushed to a hospital, treated, and then later released.

He says it's a national problem at federal prisons, not just at Thomson.

"We've asked for simple equipment, drug detection equipment, ion machines, for our mailroom. That way when the stuff comes in they can test the mail for drugs and we can eliminate that."

But it also shows the prison needs to hire more people - currently there are 75 un-filled positions.

"Last month the union did six different job fairs - in a month. So as a union we're doing everything we can to help fix the problem and bring staff in, but it just takes time."

He says the prison officer exposed to drugs in the mailroom on Tuesday is now resting at home. A similar incident occurred three weeks ago, and after being hospitalized and then sent home, the officer is back at work.

Zumkehr hopes a new federal budget will include money for the Bureau of Prisons to buy mailroom screening equipment and advertise job openings at Thomson.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois. While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University), he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS. Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing reporters about the stories they cover.