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PAGE TITLE: Pontiac Daily Leader
ARTICLE TITLE: ‘Quinn made bad decision’ - Former PCC Warden
DATE: Saturday 19 March 2011
AUTHOR: Lou Lowery
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Lou Lowery was the former assistant warden at Pontiac Correctional Center. Pontiac Correctional Center, established in June 1871, is a Illinois Department of Corrections maximum security prison (Level 1) for adult males in Pontiac, Illinois. The prison also has a medium security unit that houses medium to minimum security inmates and is classified as Level 3. Until the 2011 abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, the prison housed male death row inmates, but had no execution chamber. Inmates were executed at the Tamms Correctional Center. Although the capacity of the prison is only 1,058, it has an average daily population of 1,660. In May 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration proposed to shut down the Pontiac facility, which would phase out the prison between January and February 2009. The inmate population would be transferred to the Thomson facility, a newly-built maximum security prison, which is also equipped to house segregated inmates. The facility is one of the largest employers in the Livingston County community. Governor Pat Quinn cancelled plans to close Pontiac Correctional Center on March 12, 2009.
Lou Lowery, former assistant warden at Pontiac Correctional Center, said he disagreed with Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to abolish Illinois’ death penalty.
‘Quinn made bad decision’
- Former PCC Warden
By Sheila Shelton
Posted Mar 19, 2011 @ 06:46 AM
A former assistant warden at Pontiac Correctional Center believes Governor Pat Quinn made a bad decision in abolishing Illinois’ death penalty.
“I am very upset with the governor’s decision. During my 38 years at PCC I was involved with many Death Row inmates,” Lou Lowery said in an interview with The Daily Leader Friday afternoon. ”I still say a person who did killing(s) deserves to die.”
Lowery said he understands that inmates in Illinois in the past have been in Condemned Units and then been exonerated.
“I am glad that the actual killers were found or it became clear that the person sentenced to death was innocent. Get the innocent people off of Death Row, let them go, but don’t abolish the death sentence and commute the death sentences like Quinn did.”
Lowery said as assistant warden of operations at PCC he had to review condemned unit inmates’ records all the time.
“They couldn’t go on a writ for a court appearance or anywhere else without me having thoroughly studied their records to make certain what kind of danger they could pose to the public or the officers who were accompanying them,” said Lowery. “These are men who have nothing to lose. They have killed before and they will do it again.”
He used as an example the four inmates charged in the murder of PCC Superintendent Robert L. Taylor on Sept. 3, 1987. The four had not previously been sentenced to death.
“They killed Superintendent Taylor right in his office at PCC. All four had previously been convicted of murder. He was stabbed six times, once through the heart and beaten with an iron pipe as he sat at his desk in the South Cellhouse,” said Lowery.
He said it bothers him that the 15 Death Row inmates from PCC could be put back in the general population at the prison. PCC is currently the only correctional center in the state to have a Death Row. All the inmates in it were sentenced to death since former Governor George Ryan placed a moratorium on the death sentence in January 2002.
“The 15 Death Row inmates, here, who had their death sentences commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, should not be kept here,” said Lowery. “The state needs to find these men a different place to be housed. They need to be placed elsewhere for staff and security reasons. Long-term sentences don’t deter crime. These inmates will be too familiar with how PCC is run and they will know too many officers and staff.”
Lowery said he was on the writ team that took the last inmate on Death Row at PCC to be executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.
“He never showed one bit of remorse for the family of the person he killed,” he said. “I even had to be at his execution at Stateville.”
Lowery said he feels especially fearful of the 15 men whose sentences were recently commuted.
“Some of these men were on Death Row for more than one murder. I am not an attorney. But I know what I feel and that is that a life sentence doesn’t mean they won’t escape or kill somebody else,” he said.