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Judge Puts Prison Closures On Hold

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 6, 2012 4:30PM

Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to close several prisons in Illinois are on hold, at least temporarily, thanks to a ruling by a downstate judge. The Tribune reports Alexander County Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness issued a temporary restraining order blocking Quinn from shutting down the Tamms supermax prison, a women’s maximum security prison in Dwight, and several other facilities. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal workers union (AFSCME) requested the order, saying that the prison closures would create more danger for prison guards.

Quinn has argued shutting down the prisons would save the state $100 million.
Last week, an arbitrator ordered Quinn to work with AFSCME, saying that the state violated its contract with the union, saying that the Quinn administration needs to negotiate properly with workers over the closures. The State Journal Register reports AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said in a statement:

“There is no rationale for closing these facilities. They were fully funded by the legislature, which recognizes that closing them would destabilize the entire prison system, worsen dangerous overcrowding and put the safety of employees, inmates, youth and the public at risk.”

A spokeswoman for Quinn said in a statement that Judge Cavaness’ rule is “disappointing,” and the state is looking at its options to appeal the rulings. Kraft said “We have empty, half-full, outdated and expensive facilities in Illinois that our taxpayers are funding.”