The state treasurer says this is no time to be closing prisons. With the prison population at an all-time high, the state needs the space at Tamms and Dwight, says state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. “The governor’s idea of closing facilities when we are already overcrowded is not a good decision for public safety of the inmates or the staff that work there,” he said.
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The governor plans on closing Tamms and Dwight, a super-max facility and a women’s prison respectively, along with youth prisons in Murphysboro and Joliet, and adult transition centers in Carbondale, Decatur and Chicago. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections inmate population reached 49,154 last weekend, and all-time high. The system is designed to hold 34,000.
Rutherford says the state should have a five-year plan for use of its correctional facilities, to see that it gets the most use out of its assets. Gov. Pat Quinn says closing facilities such as Murphysboro has no bearing on crowding, because its population is zero. “We’re not gonna use taxpayers’ money to keep a youth camp open when there are no youth,” the governor said.
The governor says the money saved from closing prisons will be spent on child abuse and neglect investigators and prevention workers in the Department of Children and Family Services. He had hoped to have Tamms closed by the end of August, but the closure has been delayed by litigation filed by the prison workers.