APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
530 N.E.2d 271, 175 Ill. App. 3d 762, 125 Ill. Dec. 243 1988.IL.1612
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. William R. Penn, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WOMBACHER delivered the opinion of the court. STOUDER, P.J., and HEIPLE, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOMBACHER
At approximately 4:30 p.m. on September 20, 1986, the defendants, inmates at Stateville Correctional Center (hereinafter Stateville), cut the security bars on their windows, removed the screens, and lowered themselves to the ground using handmade ropes. The defendants then waited about 30 minutes before turning themselves in.
Defendant Richard McCue attempted to justify his escape. He testified the overall conditions within Stateville were inhumane and unjust. He voiced his complaints to the prison authorities on several occasions, e.g., the showers and exercise sessions were permitted too infrequently and the food quality was poor; nevertheless, the prison officials failed to respond.
McCue approached Ely about escaping so they could draw outside attention to the conditions within Stateville. If they were to break out and surrender, they could express their litany of grievances in a courtroom to judicial officials and related personnel following their indictments and during their court appearances. Regardless of an ample opportunity to consummate their escape, they surrendered to a prison guard. That way, they knew they would wind up in court, which they believed would be the most efficacious forum in which to voice their complaints.
Two other inmates testified on behalf of the defendants. One witness, Sideaci, confirmed the conditions of Stateville were deplorable. He knew the defendants publicly and privately complained about the conditions therein and planned to escape and surrender so they could voice their complaints in an alternative forum. These witnesses emphasized the defendants' and the other prisoners' complaints were continually unanswered by prison authorities.
The jury convicted both defendants as charged after hearing a caseworker at the prison state that the conditions there are in compliance with national and Illinois Department of Corrections standards. This consolidated appeal followed.
The defendants initially contend their convictions should be reversed because the State failed to prove they were convicted and committed to the Department of Corrections at the time they escaped from Stateville. We find the State proved this beyond a reasonable doubt. According to section 3 -- 6 -- 4(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections, the State is not required to prove the defendants were convicted of a felony. That section provides in part:
"A committed person who escapes or attempts to escape from an institution or facility of the Adult Division, . . . is guilty of a Class 2 felony." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 1003-6-4(a).
Alternatively, sufficient evidence was adduced at trial to prove this element. The witnesses testifying for the State stated each defendant was already committed to Stateville. The defense witnesses even testified the defendants were inmates at Stateville during the time in question. Each defendant testified they were incarcerated at Stateville on September 20, 1986. Following the defendants' testimony, the State on rebuttal introduced certified copies of the defendants' prior felony convictions for which they were imprisoned. According to the record, defense counsel admitted these defendants were ...