Suit: Prison Agency Killed Inmate Debate Program

Craig Dellimore
August 28, 2018 - 3:39 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A legal aid group is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections for shutting down a debate team program at Stateville Correctional Center.

The Uptown People’s Law Center is suing IDOC on behalf of debate coach Katrina Burlet, who says she was allowed to create debate teams within the prison to help inmates develop communications skills and more.

Law Center Legal Director Liz Mazur says an IDOC Deputy Director abruptly ended the program not long after the debaters demonstrated their skills before a group of lawmakers, talking about pension reform.

Uptown People’s Law Center Legal Director Liz Mazur (left) discusses lawsuit filed on behalf of Katrina Burlet (right)./WBBM Newsradio Craig Dellimore

She says the officials made it clear they felt that the inmates were pushing a legislative agenda that was in conflict with IDOC's own agenda. 

An IDOC spokeswoman says the agency can't comment on a pending lawsuit.