Nine Illinois prison guards disciplined after mocking transgender inmates on Facebook

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BuzzFeed News; AP Images

Photo illustration of comments posted in two closed Facebook groups, “Behind the Walls~Illinois Department of Corrections” and “Behind the Walls – Illinois Dep’t of Corrections.” 

The Illinois Department of Corrections issued suspensions and written reprimands to nine prison guards who mocked, demeaned or disclosed personal information about transgender inmates in private Facebook groups.

Seven guards received suspensions ranging from five to 15 days, and two others received written reprimands, according to personnel records obtained via public records requests.

The discipline follows an October Injustice Watch investigation about 25 prison staffers who participated in troubling conversations on Facebook about transgender inmates in state custody.

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The Illinois Department of Corrections implemented a social media policy in November that prohibits the department’s 12,000 employees from sharing confidential information about inmates and any content that is considered obscene, disparaging, threatening, or discriminatory.

Several of the staffers who were targeted for discipline are set to serve their suspensions during the holiday season and in early January, according to their personnel records.

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Prison guards mocked transgender inmates in two private Facebook groups

At least 25 Illinois Department of Corrections employees have taken part in online conversations that mocked, demeaned, or disclosed personal and medical information about transgender inmates in two private Facebook groups, an Injustice Watch review has found.

A spokesman for the union that represents state corrections employees did not respond to a request for comment.

Correctional officer James Schaefer was given the longest suspension of the nine employees disciplined — 15 days —  after posting in one of the Facebook groups about a transgender woman who was transferred to a women’s prison.

“I’ve seen this mother fucker with a beard,” Schaefer wrote after another group member shared a post about the woman’s transfer last December. “The state is stupid I’d chop his pecker off for him than he can be ‘female.’”

The second-longest suspension went to correctional sergeant Jeremiah Varble. In January 2018, Varble posted in one of the private Facebook groups that he had witnessed a transgender prisoner performing oral sex on male genitalia in 2012 at the Logan Correctional Center, which only houses women. He received a seven-day suspension.

Here’s a list of other corrections staff who were subjected to discipline for online misconduct:

  • Correctional lieutenant Adrian Corley and officer Jordan Schreiber both received five-day suspensions after they mocked a transgender woman during a lewd back-and-forth exchange.
  • Food service supervisor Scott Evans wrote that he was “anti-transgender” after the Department of Corrections placed other corrections staff under investigation for public Facebook posts that disparaged transgender individuals. Evans received a written reprimand.
  • Correctional officer Kenneth Mottershaw, who wrote on Facebook that transgender individuals were a “joke,” received a written reprimand.
  • Officer Thomas Angeli received a five-day suspension after referring to a transgender woman as a “dude.” Angeli described her physical appearance and lack of “something feminine,” in the post, claiming to have seen her in a healthcare unit. In another post, he applauded an offensive meme that used an LGBTQ slur.
  • Lieutenant Anthony Bigger received a five-day suspension after sharing posts that disputed the validity of transgender identity.
  • Officer Richard Glazik received a five-day suspension. Our investigation found that he referred to a transgender woman in one post as “it.”