* 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.