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Quinn to appeal injunction

Thursday, Oct 11, 2012

* This preliminary injunction is basically just replaces the judge’s temporary restraining order. It’s not really all that new

An Alexander County judge sided with the state’s largest employee union Wednesday, blocking Gov. Pat Quinn from closing prisons, halfway houses and youth detention facilities.

Associate Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness issued an injunction that keeps a hold on the closure of prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth facility in Murphysboro and adult transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale.

Quinn, who wants to close the facilities as part of a budget-cutting plan he outlined in February, could appeal the decision or await action on budget-related issues by the General Assembly when lawmakers convene in late November for the fall veto session.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 argued that moving violent inmates out of Tamms and into an already crowded prison system could endanger prison employees.

* But Gov. Pat Quinn plans to appeal

Quinn spokesman Abdon Pallasch said delaying the closures, most of which were scheduled for Aug. 31, is costing the state $7 million a month it doesn’t have. Pallasch said the administration plans to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Cavaness agreed with AFSCME’s argument that Quinn’s changes, such as closing Tamms and transferring highly troublesome inmates to the maximum-security prison at Pontiac, are so drastic they require adjustments to contractual working conditions. Particularly in a prison system designed for 33,700 inmates but holding more than 49,000.

In the order, Cavaness again agreed that AFSMCE had shown the closures “have the potential to make the prisons that remain more dangerous for employees.” He had made that statement a month ago when he issued a temporary prohibition on closures. Quinn appealed that decision to a state appellate court but lost and that appeal remains before the Supreme Court.

That action resulted from an independent arbitrator’s ruling in late August that Quinn had violated the AFSCME contract by not negotiating the impact of the closures on working conditions.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


22 Comments
  1. - soccermom - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 9:51 am:

    Quinn Spokesman Abdon Pallasch! Woot!


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    This Just In: Lawyers making more money!

    The one thing we know for sure is that this is far from being done, and everyone, (and thus far it has only been ‘Quinn’) will appeal this till the bitter end.


  3. - The Corporate Way - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:20 am:

    Where are the Republicans on this? Against tax increases. Are they for keeping facilities open? How do they reconcile this?


  4. - The Corporate Way - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:21 am:

    Why are there no reporters astute enough to press them on these questions?


  5. - walkinfool - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    While Quinn fights with his unions, and tries to actually rein in spending, the Repubs just stand back and let him flap in the wind. The same with proposed pension changes.

    They’ve a long history of complaining about spending, but not helping, even with their own proposals, as a path to election victories.

    It’s not working for us at any level.


  6. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    Isn’t this evidence that we have way too many people in prison?

    Isn’t something like a third of all our inmates non-violent drug offenders?

    Shouldn’t we put them on probation or get them treatment or something cheaper?


  7. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    I understand the cost savings that closing prisons brings. What I don’t understand is if prisons are already overcrowded, and the State has an obligation to protect its citizens from those who commit crimes, then closing additional prisons will lead to (1) more overcrowding, forcing earlier releases, and (2) putting bad guys on the streets with little or no punishment or opportunity to learn that crime does not pay?

    Doesn’t this make the cost to society higher than the cost of keeping these prisons operating?


  8. - Dan Bureaucrat - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    Murphysboro has full staff and no inmates. But the full staff reports to work, and are transported by van to other nearby facilities, being paid for out of the DJJ budget.

    Tamms is 2/3 empty and fully staffed. They no longer have a mental health unit. There are 139 men in the supermax, and 25 who have been identified as needing extra security precautions.

    Pontiac is an all-segregation maximum security prison that used to house death-row prisoners. It is at 96% capacity.


  9. - bartelby - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 11:34 am:

    The case that AFSCME is making is patently false — all the published research indicates that supermax prisons have no impact on aggregate levels of prison violence. If the judge in Alexander County is making his decision based upon facts (and not upon local politics), then who is giving him his information? I fear that his only concern is re-election, or satisfying local politicians.


  10. - Dan Bureaucrat - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 11:43 am:

    Louis,

    Good questions but actually no:
    1. Putting people with low-level crimes in prison, which is most of IDOC, actually increases the risk of future recidivism vs alternatives like probation or community supervision. That’s because people lose jobs, homes, family and go on a downward path, and also don’t have the root problem addressed.

    2. Tamms will not contribute to overcrowding b/c there are only 139 men in the supermax. They are mostly going to Pontiac which is not overcrowded.

    3. If they could close the prison, they could bring that enormous staff over to other prisons that need staff because they have chronic unfilled openings. That makes crowded prisons safer.

    Note: Taxpayers pay $46 million per year in overtime for open corrections positions–year after year. Am I the only one shocked by that?


  11. - Tired - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 12:11 pm:

    If thats true then why have staff assaults gone uo since the Tamms were made- why are people sleeping on cots and floors if the places arent overcrowded-
    places half empty are therir fault for not doing things right to begin wiht


  12. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 12:13 pm:

    Why can’t Quinn accomplish restaffing and closure if he followed the contractual process and the law?
    His administration seems use press releases and rule breaking before it properly follows any process. This ranges from health insurance contract bodding to prison closures… transparently unethical.


  13. - bartelby - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 12:34 pm:

    Dear Tired: Staff assaults have actually gone down since the Tamms announcement has been made. (What has gone up in AFSCME exaggeration.) But in fact, any small change up or down in assaults is just statistical noise in a system with almost 50,000 prisoners.


  14. - Alan Mills - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 2:19 pm:

    The judge made his ruling without hearing any evidence at all from the prisoners at Tamms. The Uptown People’s Law Center filed a motion to intervene, so that their evidence could be presented to the court, but that motion was denied, both at the temporary restraining order phase, and on the preliminary injunction.

    The judge, in finding for AFSCME, found that keeping Tamms open would not violate any well established public policy. However, his ruling makes no mention (because he refused to hear any evidence on the question) of the harm being done to prisoners who are being kept in total isolation, despite the fact that the Department has now determined that this continued torture furthers no legitimate penological purpose. As a result, these men are yet being used as pawns, in the chess match being played by AFSCME and the State, without being accorded any opportunity to defend themselves, or present evidence to the Court.

    This is not due process. This is not the way justice is supposed to work.


  15. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    If it is costing the state $7 million a month that the state doesn’t have to keep these prisons open, how can they use the “savings” to restore funding cuts to at-risk child programs, as the Governor has often said he wants to do with the money? I am so confused, can anyone explain this to me?


  16. - Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    ==Why can’t Quinn accomplish restaffing and closure if he followed the contractual process and the law?==

    That’s just an absurd statement. AFSCME says the closures have to be bargained. They’ve said no closures. Don’t you think the state at some point has the right to actually MANAGE some things? AFSCME has gotten totally out of control and the looney judges in this state are backing them up. We have become a government that has to ask AFSCME’s permission to do anything. Ridiculous!!!


  17. - Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 2:40 pm:

    @lincolnlover:

    They can’t. That amount will dwindle with each passing month if they are doing a dollar for dollar trade-off.


  18. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 3:29 pm:

    @ Demoralized: ==That’s just an absurd statement.==
    ? = question. You’re response shows that you are the master of the absurd.
    There’s obviously a question. Maybe you could provide a real answer since you seem to be an expert at union matters and the contract. You should have filed a brief and straightened everything out. - thank goodness not everyone is as sane and rational as you. - geesh!


  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    Quinn is such a putz!! If he will get over himself he might better serve the people of this state !!


  20. - Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 3:55 pm:

    @Crime Fighter:

    I answered your question. Your question itself is ridiculous. And, yes, I do know quite a bit about the union contract since I deal with it. The state has given up too much control to the union. Judges have expanded that control by essentially siding with the union every time the state attempts to actually manage the government by telling the state they have to get AFSCME’s permission first. I can’t help it if you are too ignorant to understand.


  21. - Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 4:01 pm:

    @Crime Fighter:

    Stated more simply, the judge has effectively made it impossible for the state to do what you say. He said its a change in working conditions that has to be bargained on the one hand, while on the other hand stating that the change in working conditions is too dangerous to allow the closures. So . . . follow the contract, but even if you do you can’t close the prisons.


  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 11, 12 @ 7:26 pm:

    Demoralized , your boss getting bad press is he ?


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