The union representing corrections officers says inmate attacks on state employees have increased 51 percent since 2015.
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 said Thursday that assaults increased from 541 in the 2015 calendar year to a projected 819.
AFSCME says the Illinois Department of Corrections is reclassifying violent inmates to lower security levels to save money. Those inmates are transferred to medium-security prisons which are less costly to run.
Gladyse Taylor is assistant director of corrections. She says inmates are only transferred to lower-level security prisons when their progress and behavior warrants.
Corrections Department Director John Baldwin says the department is training officers to deal with a large number of mentally ill prisoners, has increased staffing and is seeking money for new equipment.