Illinois mothballs half dozen correctional facilities, despite crowding

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has joined the list of state leaders trying to cut costs by shutting down state correctional facilities. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is pushing forward with plans to mothball state correctional facilities, despite inmate crowding that has forced state corrections officials to convert gymnasiums into dormitories.

The list of facilities on the closure list include a supermax facility in Tamms, Illinois, as well as a women’s prison, two juvenile correctional facilities and three transitional facilities for inmates in Chicago.

This from the Chicago Tribune yesterday.

Quinn defended the closings Monday, particularly the shutdown of Tamms, saying the prison had “many, many problems.”  “I made the decision to close it,” Quinn said. “And I think Illinois is better off because we did.”

Hoping to cut costs and reduce inmate rolls, Illinois’ legislature has implemented a new early release system, particularly for drug offenders.

The move sparked controversy during the 2010 campaign when some prisoners were released after just a few weeks behind bars, according to the Tribune.

Meanwhile, local communities that rely on prison jobs have been outraged by the closures.  This from the Southeast Missourian newspaper.

Two sides are marshaling their forces in a fight that could decide the future of communities in Southern Illinois.

When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power to slash funding for several facilities in the region, many members of the General Assembly saw the act as a shot across their bow.

“The governor’s decision to turn his back on Southern Illinois will be a major blow to our region’s economy and the hundreds of families that have been working hard and playing by the rules just to make a living,” said state Sen. Gary Forby in his weekly newsletter.

This is the debate over prison costs and jobs that’s driving a big part of the incarceration reform debate in America right now.  The push to close more state prisons has prison towns scrambling to protect their facilities.

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