SPRINGFIELD - Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is calling on Governor Pat Quinn to back off his plan to close the state prisons in Dwight and Tamms and three halfway houses. “The recently released Associated Press analysis that shows the state prison population is at a record high is alarming,” said Rutherford. “Additionally, when you look at the fact that the Quinn administration will not allow the media any access to these state prisons, it makes you wonder what is going on here.”
Governor Pat Quinn announced earlier this year that he intends to close state prisons in Tamms, Dwight and three state halfway houses due to budget constraints. A court battle between the governor’s office and AFSCME has delayed these closures, though Quinn has said he still intends to do so. “I hope the governor will stop pushing for these prison closures now that it’s been revealed that the state prison population has reached a record high,” said Rutherford. “Further closures will exacerbate the situation, putting employees and communities in danger. I have said it several times already, but now it is time to ditch this prison closure plan once and for all.”
The AP analysis, which reportedly involved tabulating the inmate data made available to the public on the Illinois Department of Corrections website, shows that over the past weekend, there were 49,154 inmates in the state prison system. The John Howard Society says Illinois prisons are currently built to house 34,000 inmates. IDOC says the AP’s totals are approximately 100 inmates too high.
Rutherford has been calling on the state of Illinois to implement business principles by having strategic long-range plans for its major state facility assets. Rutherford would like a plan for each major state facility. After careful evaluations, the plan for each facility would be put into place for a multi-year projection, like the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) does with the state’s road proposal. Rutherford thinks strategic planning should outline what will happen to a state facility’s employees, residents, buildings and community if the operation is to close for some reason. He also believes options should also be presented for alternative deployment of those state assets.
“Requiring this kind of long-range strategic planning will be more effective for employees, residents and communities hosting these state facilities,” said Rutherford. “Strategic planning will help prepare use of the brick and mortar of each state facility for the future, whether it entails construction or destruction.”