The federal penitentiary in Thomson, Illinois was meant to relieve some of the overcrowding that plagues prisons in the United States. However, the newest addition to the prison system has quickly become the deadliest. Keep reading for more information.
Trouble in Thomson
The facility opened in 2001 and was designated as a high-security prison attached to a minimum security satellite camp. In general, prisons are separated into categories based on the level of security necessary to house inmates.
- Minimum security prisons house white-collar criminals and other non-violent perpetrators who commit federal crimes or crimes on a larger scale. These prisons have dorm-like housing and fewer guards.
- Medium security prisons use basic security measures to house most criminals. Security is more extensive than in a minimum-security facility, but inmates have a routine and supervised free time.
- High-security prisons are reserved for the most violent criminals and have cage-style housing and armed guards. Prisoners are not given freedom and each person is considered high-risk.
- Supermax prisons are for those who commit acts of terrorism or capital crimes that go beyond the scope of most federal crimes. These facilities house inmates individually and may not provide interaction with other prisoners.
The Thomson prison is a high-security prison meaning it houses very high-risk, violent inmates under strict rules and constant supervision via security systems and armed guards. Thomson in particular boasted strict security protocols but that promise has proven insufficient to handle the inmates at the facility.
Since 2020, seven inmates have been killed in prison.
Fatalities Behind Bars
Matt Philips, 31, was sentenced to serve time at Thomson for selling heroin. As a proud Jewish man, Phillips had a large, visible tattoo of the Star of David on his chest. The guards put him in a recreational cage with known white supremacists. Brandon Simonson and Kristopher Martin or “Whitey” and “No Luck,” were members of a gang called Valhalla Bound Skinheads.
Skinheads are a historically violent Nazi supremacist prison gang. Members bear tattoos showing their dedication to the “cause” and these two prisoners, in particular, had Nazi memorabilia in their cells as well as literature promoting white supremacy and support for Adolf Hitler. The two inmates stomped on Phillips’ head until he died.
It’s not known how exactly things went down, or what the guards did (or did not) do to stop the conflict. In general, guards are supposed to stop violence between inmates, but guards at the Thomson facility seem to take a more passive stance despite working at a high-security prison.
Edsel Badoni, Shay Paniry, Boyd Weekley, Patrick Bacon, and Bobby Everson all died in prison under questionable circumstances. Two were stabbed while two others were hanged. Everson was another fatality and his death is believed to be a homicide. James Everett was presumed killed in March 2022 when a guard found him unresponsive in his cell.
Finding the source of the violence has been troublingly difficult for investigators. An earlier homicide epidemic at a Lewisburg facility showed a trend – inmates that went through the facility’s disciplinary program did not show signs of violence until after they were disciplined. At least seven inmates who were punished at Lewisburg committed homicides in prison.
For families of the inmates killed at Thomson, the Lewisburg prison is a terrifying omen that their children and loved ones have been sent to homicide factories. The treatment of prisoners at the facility has been notably unethical for some time and prisoners struggling with mental health issues are regularly restrained for 23 hours a day. Families and reformers are concerned that these conditions are the perfect recipe for creating murders within the prison walls.
The deaths at Thomson and the mistreatment of inmates at the Illinois and Lewisburg facilities are concerning, to say the least. These prisons are meant to house inmates under the highest security but death and torture are prevalent which leads many to wonder if federal prisons are safe at all.
If you have been accused of a crime, contact The Law Office of David A. Webster immediately.