Overcrowding and understaffing in Illinois prisons helps nobody. In what could go into a file marked, “And They Needed a Study for This?,” a prison watchdog group says state corrections hiring is hamstrung by regulations.

Part of the problem is the consequences of good intentions. “The initial instinct to move away from giving positions based on party affiliation was a good instinct,” says Jennifer Vollen-Katz, executive director of the John Howard Association. “What we've created is layer upon layer of bureaucratic process that makes it impossible to hire efficiently and effectively that we have to take a good, hard look at and undo.”

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Part of the solution, she says, is reducing red tape. Another, she says, are already forming: state and federal commitments to weed non-violent offenders out of the prison population.

(Copyright WBGZ / www.AltonDailyNews.com )