Illinois corrections officials were convinced convicted wife killer Drew Peterson was such a threat to security, that they began trying to find ways to transfer him out of the state prison system as early as last October.
Without explanation, Peterson was transferred out of the Illinois Department of Corrections last month to the Federal Correctional Center at Terre Haute, Indiana.
Internal documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, show that in a memo dated Oct. 5, 2016, prison official Doug Stephens warned acting Corrections Director John Baldwin, that Peterson was a “threat to safety and security of the department.”
Stephens said Illinois should seek placement of Peterson outside the state prison system “due to his former position as well as his conviction of Solicitation/Murder for Hire of the Will County State’s Attorney.”
“With his placement outside of Illinois Department of Corrections,” Stephens wrote, “it is imperative this offender be continually monitored through his mail, as well as telephone conversations due to his former actions.”
Informed of the documents Wednesday evening, Peterson’s attorney Steve Greenberg said he saw no rationale for security concerns regarding his client.
“I have no idea why he was transferred,” Greenberg told NBC 5. “I think what IDOC wanted to do was they just wanted him out of their jail for whatever reason.”
Greenberg argued that Illinois has plenty of experience dealing with a wide variety of convicted criminals.
“They’ve had people who have inflicted great violence on other inmates, inflicted violence on guards, this is just them getting rid of their responsibilities for whatever internal reason,” he said. “And we’re not going to complain about it, because he’s in a better place.”
Better, Greenberg says, because Menard penitentiary where Peterson had been housed, is an “awful, awful place.”
“Anywhere is better than Menard,” he said. “And based on my conversations with him, he is perfectly happy to be in this facility.”
The files show that things began to move fast after Federal corrections officials accepted Peterson and assigned him to Terre Haute February 10th.
“Offender is to be transported with NO PERSONAL PROPERTY OF ANY KIND,” Illinois corrections official Kathy Greer warned in a confidential email Feb. 16. “The information regarding this move should be treated as highly confidential, and limited to only staff needed to complete this transfer.”
Greer advised that Peterson should be transferred with a two week supply of his medications.
“Maybe he’s a celebrity,” Greenberg said. “I know he gets a lot of media requests, maybe other inmates were looking up to him and they just used this opportunity to lujack him to somewhere else.”
The documents, obtained through an open records request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, were accompanied by a memo informing NBC 5 about other confidential files they were not providing.
Among the documents withheld, were Interstate Corrections Compact records pertaining to Peterson’s transfer from state to federal custody. The memo also stated that IDOC was also withholding certain emails, which included “pre-decisional discussions between IDOC staff concerning processing the transfer of custody,” and others relating to security issues.
While he said he did not see any of the security issues Illinois officials cited, Greenberg said he was happy his client was, at least for now, in federal hands.
“You know in state prison if you do something to an inmate like Drew Peterson, other inmates might look up to you,” he said. “In federal prison, there’s lots of people like that---it just doesn’t happen.”
“I can tell you, he has no idea why he was transferred.”