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Union Calls for Thomson Warden to be Removed

the federal prison in Thomson, Illinois.
US Bureau of Prisons
the federal prison in Thomson, Illinois.

Following recent reports of sexual assault and misconduct by inmates, the union representing guards and staff at the federal prison in Thomson, Illinois has called for the removal of the warden.

The American Federation of Government Employees blames Thomas Bergami for failing to address the problem, citing more than 300 incidents last year.

Union President Everett Kelley says, “Our union has raised repeated concerns about this persistent pattern of abuse, but nothing has been done in response. Employees are being subjected to this criminal behavior repeatedly yet are getting no support from their employer. This failure of leadership must be addressed.”

The president of Local 40-70 of the American Federation of Government Employees, John Zumkehr, says it's causing mental health problems and stress-reduced illness among Thomson staff. And he's worried that the lack of action by prison management will lead to more assaults and misconduct, and soon physical attacks.

Last year the prison installed window coverings on cells and placed limits on prisoner accounts to prevent the behavior. But when the warden removed those protections, Zumkehr says the number of incidents increased from around a dozen per month to 46 in November.

The US Bureau of Prisons and Thomson officials have not been available for comment.

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.