Prison closure ruling could come Friday

2012-10-04T20:12:00Z 2012-10-06T00:11:37Z Prison closure ruling could come FridayBy Kurt Erickson | kurt.erickson@lee.net pantagraph.com

SPRINGFIELD — An Alexander County judge could rule as early as Friday on a request to stop Gov. Pat Quinn from closing prisons, halfway houses and youth detention facilities.

On Thursday, Associate Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness received written copies of closing arguments in the lawsuit brought by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

The union wants Cavaness to block the closure of prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth facility in Murphysboro and adult transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale.

The judge’s decision will mark the latest in a series of legal rulings affecting state government operations since Quinn announced in February that he wanted to close 60 large and small state facilities to save an estimated $80 million. The union also is fighting Quinn’s decision to not pay salary increases outlined in AFSCME’s labor agreement with the state.

Caveness issued a temporary restraining order in September stopping the Chicago Democrat from moving forward with the closures pending the outcome of further legal wrangling.

During hearings in Cairo last week, AFSCME officials said moving violent inmates out of Tamms and into an already crowded prison system could endanger the safety of prison employees.

Despite the temporary restraining order, Quinn’s closure plan is affecting some workers.

At the Murphysboro youth prison, employees are being transported in vans each day to the Harrisburg youth prison, where they work for about four hours per day before being driven back to Murphysboro.

Murphysboro has the capacity to hold 156 youths, but the facility was emptied on July 9 as part of Quinn’s closure plan, leaving employees with little to do pending the outcome of the legal fight.

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(3) Comments

  1. yosemite sam
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    yosemite sam - October 05, 2012 6:59 pm
    Please, BC, medium security, segragation facility, mental health prison and max security cannot be compared to each other. Each prison has a mission and the costs very according to that mission.
    As far as Thomson is concerned, it would have been a great deal........for Iowa.
  2. BC
    Report Abuse
    BC - October 05, 2012 8:09 am
    Stateville is 50 years newer than Pontiac, it opened in 1925. Pontiac opened in 1871, the second oldest still operating prison in the country. Both cost half again as much per inmate to operate as the newer more modern prisons in the state. Tamms opened in 1995 and costs over $61,000 per inmate. If you want to cite cost, close both Pontiac and Stateville. Dixon and Menard run about $23,000 per inmate. The sensible thing would have been to use the one we just sold to the Feds that was actually built to replace Pontiac. All stated are maximum security and should be able to accommodate Tamm's inmates.
  3. bear12
    Report Abuse
    bear12 - October 05, 2012 6:03 am
    How is Gov Quinn going to save money by closing prisons? Every on will have a job the prisons have to be keep up.The people that think Tamms inmate will be all right in Pontiac have no clue of how to run a prison,from the director on up to Quinn most never been in a prison. Why not close Stateville it is falling a part?
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