As the governor moves ahead with a plan to close state facilities, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says the state should develop a plan. The governor’s budget office confirms the plans to close Tamms supermax prison and Dwight Correctional Center. Other closures include juvenile justice centers in Joliet and Murphysboro and three transitional centers for inmates. The announcement was made Tuesday night.
But Rutherford says without a plan, there’s no point in rushing to close facilities. “Announcing the closure of these facilities without having a strategic plan and what we’re going to do with the overcrowding, where we’re going with those assets and how we can best deploy them is a major concern to me,” Rutherford says. He says the budget passed by the General Assembly includes funding to keep facilities open. That would give lawmakers time to come up with a plan for the future of state facilities.
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Prison overcrowding has long been a concern for the state. With a capacity of 34,000 inmates, Illinois prisons are currently housing 48,200. On Tamms, Rutherford says there’s a specific reason that prison was built and believes it is needed in the system. “Tamms was built and configured to house the worst of the worst,” Rutherford said. “The inmates that are at Tamms earn their right to go there, meaning that they cannot be a part of normal [maximum security] male population.”
Closures also mean pink slips. According to the union representing workers, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, layoffs in the areas of corrections and juvenile justice would total over 1,000.
Layoffs include 360 at Dwight, roughly 300 at Tamms, 225 at Joliet, 100 at Murphysboro, and dozens more at adult transition centers in Carbondale, Chicago and Decatur, according to AFSCME.
The governor’s office says most of the facilities will be closed by Aug. 31, saving the state $62 million. Some savings would find their way back into the Corrections Department, according to the governor’s budget office.