Southern Illinois prison may be visited by federal judges

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SPRINGFIELD - According to court documents, two federal judges working on a class-action lawsuit about overcrowding may visit a prison in southern Illinois.

In 2012, three inmates filed suit on behalf of hundreds of inmates in the Vienna facility.  They argue that the prisoners lived in quarters filled with cockroaches, mold, and mice, and had insufficient bathrooms.  The Illinois Department of Corrections has since worked to upgrade the facility.

In an order on Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier called for a meeting with lawyers for inmates and the state at the Vienna Correctional Center on October 30.  Frazier also wrote that U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert may attend the meeting.  The case has been in settlement talks since late 2013, and Gilbert would preside over the trial if a settlement isn't reached.

According to IDOC reports, the prison was designed to hold 925 inmates.  However, IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer said the facility is currently holding more than 1,600 prisoners.

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