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Prisoners to be housed in gymnasiums

Thursday, Feb 14, 2013

* Actions have consequences, and the governor’s plan to close prisons has resulted in some negative consequences

Inmates at six Illinois prisons will be bunking in gyms in the coming weeks as part of the state’s ongoing struggle with overcrowding.

With more than 49,000 inmates packed into space built for 33,000 prisoners, Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. Godinez notified the union representing prison employees on Wednesday of the pending changes.

Prisons in Vandalia, Danville, Centralia, Canton, Vienna and Hillsboro are affected.

“The gymnasiums in those facilities will be temporarily set up as dormitory units for minimum-security inmates,” Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said in an email Thursday. […]

The state has shuttered the Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois and is moving to close the all-female Dwight Correctional Center. The loss of more than 1,000 beds at a time when the prison population continues to grow has raised concerns about a rise in violence.

* And

The union representing Illinois prison workers is denouncing what it says is a return of “circuit riders” — hardcore, sometimes brutal inmates shipped from prison to prison to keep them out of trouble — after prisoners suspected in an attack last week were transferred to less-secure lockups, The Associated Press has learned.

In a letter Wednesday to Department of Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez, a regional director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees demanded an end to transfers until Godinez negotiates safety concerns with the union. […]

Caumiant’s letter said it’s a violation of Corrections’ administrative guidelines to move maximum-security inmates to facilities with lower levels of security.

“What’s more,” Caumiant said, “it is the height of irresponsibility to put employees of the receiving facilities in the position of taking inmates with no immediate knowledge of the violent crimes they have committed against employees and other inmates.”

* AFSCME is using guard attacks as physical proof that Quinn’s contract negotiations are causing real harm

…Adding… AFSCME video

* Related…

* Quinn adds to one prison as he closes others; Critics wonder if governor has an actual strategy

- Posted by Rich Miller        


41 Comments
  1. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    The decision to close facilities for budgetary reasons is certainly looking stupider with every passing day. This latest action has the potential to shed an even harsher light on the Governor’s ability to have a coherent approach to the issues involved.


  2. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    1. We need laws that address our prison over-crowding. We should begin looking at the prospect of fines instead of prison for non-violent drug crimes. After that we should address other initiatives that avoid prison time for non-violent crimes. While we’re at it we should treat drug addiction as a mental health issue instead of a criminal issue.

    2. What specifically is AFSME trying to do to enhance safer working conditions through the bargaining process? I thought it the contract termination was regarding pay. If someone from the union could shed some light on this that would be appreciative. I know about the lawsuits trying to prevent prison closures, just was unaware something was being discussed in contract negotiations.


  3. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    There has always been a problem with overcrowding. Illinois’ laws and policies for locking people up do not match the capacity of our prisons. If there truly are that many people that need to remain in prison then they need to have a sufficient number of prisons to house them securely and safely. If they don’t need to be there then they need to let them out and look for alternative methods of punishment.


  4. - South - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    Nice job PQ


  5. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    And yet it’s AFSCME that cries demonization. Pathetic.


  6. - wishbone - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    Maybe we should have kept the death penalty for prisoners who beat up guards. Nice going George Ryan.


  7. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    Small Town - What?? Yes, the governor and his
    entourage continue to demonize the evil state employees to the extent that their contract was terminated!! Take a look at that picture and tell me what’s wrong with letting the public know who’s responsible?


  8. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    ===Take a look at that picture and tell me what’s wrong with letting the public know who’s responsible?===

    I think the prisoner who inflicted the beating is responsible. What am I missing?


  9. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    Rushville is not a prison. It’s ran by DHS as a MH facility for sex offenders. Read the bill, it’s not a prison.


  10. - Liberty_First - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    And yet Quinn continues to throw dollars around Chicago.


  11. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    === Quinn adds to one prison as he closes others; Critics wonder if governor has an actual strategy ===

    It’s not just critics wondering this.

    Ditto in regards to his closure “plan” for mental health facilities.


  12. - Jeff Park Mom - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 2:59 pm:

    47th Ward - I think you’re missing 49,000 inmates in prisons built for 33,000. You’re missing Quinn still closing more prisons so they will have to house inmates in gyms. How can you argue he doesn’t have to shoulder responsibility for the resulting violence between inmates and against staff?


  13. - incredulous - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    I think a lot of people don’t understand how big IDOC is.

    Before closures, there were 29 “true prisons” (aside from the work camps, boot camps, and transition centers).

    Now there are 28.

    This did not cause 49,000 people in space for 33,000.

    It also didn’t bash the guard’s face in.


  14. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    ===How can you argue he doesn’t have to shoulder responsibility for the resulting violence between inmates and against staff?===

    Look, ever since there have been prisons, there have been prisoners assaulting guards. If you or AFSCME can show credible data that assaults are on the rise in the past year out of step with the past decade, then your argument will carry more weight.

    I feel horrible for this guard. No one should be beaten like that. I don’t know the facts of this case, but putting this on Quinn is a political stunt by AFSCME and it makes me sick. They are exploiting this man’s injuries and I don’t care for that.


  15. - Huh? - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    Any bets on how long it will be before there is a law suit for cruel and unusual punishment based on prison over crowding?


  16. - incredulous - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    There already is one.


  17. - Me - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:23 pm:

    “…show credible data that assaults are on the rise in the past year out of step with the past decade…”

    How can one obtain “credible data” about staff assaults when the department changes the definition/criteria therefor?

    Three kinds of lies, folks.


  18. - Jeff Park Mom - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    incredulous - The article above quotes DOC as saying they are going to house inmates in gyms in 6 prisons. This is happening because Quinn is closing ANOTHER prison. Closing prisons does increase overcrowding. And good for the media for holding Quinn responsible for the results.


  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    I had heard that the US has the highest incarceration rates in the world and it appears that at over 700/100k it’s true. Plenty of countries have less than 200/100k.


  20. - incredulous - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Jeff Park Mom - the article above also says it’s “not the first time in recent months,” and it isn’t.


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    Today, the DEA and the Chicago Crime Commission named Joaquin Guzman as Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1.

    He’s head of the Sinaolan Cartel and is holed up in Northern Mexico.

    Chicago’s drug crime and gang murders are part of an international, billion-dollar ongoing criminal enterprise.

    DEA and the Chicago Crime Commission said the cartel has made Chicago a hub for drug distribution across the United States. That’s a national problem.

    I don’t know that the locals and state have the resources or will to deal with it.

    Given the outrageous number of murders in Chicago tied to this international criminal enterprise — especially when compared to New York and Los Angeles — a massive federal response, just as was done in South Florida in the 80s, would seem to be in order.

    http://www.wbez.org/news/cartel-kingpin-chicagos-new-public-enemy-no-1-105528?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cprmetro+%28WBEZ%27s+Metro+Desk+%29


  22. - anon - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    I’m not for the death penalty and I am for a long term strategy to reduce incarceration. But these actions by Governor Quinn are putting guards and inmates at risk. It’s simply wrong, irresponsible and reprehensible.


  23. - Just Observing - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    This reminds me of when the nerds were housed in the gym in Revenge of the Nerds.


  24. - Just Observing - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    === Maybe we should have kept the death penalty for prisoners who beat up guards. Nice going George Ryan. ===

    Um… I don’t think the death penalty was ever a legal punishment for an inmate beating up a guard.


  25. - Fred's Mustache - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    === I don’t know the facts of this case, but putting this on Quinn is a political stunt by AFSCME and it makes me sick. They are exploiting this man’s injuries and I don’t care for that.===

    My thoughts exactly. AFSCME is way out of bounds here. Yes, Quinn has advocated for the closure of prisons, and yes, the closure of prisons has led to overcrowding of certain prisons… but let’s be real here - this isn’t about prison guard safety. This is about money. If it was solely about worker safety, AFSCME could have had their employees take a paycut to keep the other facilities open and have a safer prison environment. Instead they wanted all of the prisons open. And raises for its members. And a tax hike to make up the difference for the pension shortfall.

    I am all for collective bargaining. But I think its complete stupidity for unions not to see the writing on the wall and understand that they should be negotiating with our state’s fiscal situation in mind. Yes, the unions can rightfully put some blame on others for the mess… but that doesn’t solve anything.


  26. - Python - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    PQ declares a emergency procurement for $13 million for rush vile? No bid contracts to hand picked contractor. IYC St. Charles $7 million emergency procurement. PQ doesn’t have a clue what’s he is doing. Just spend the money and make the system more unsafe.


  27. - Wumpus - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    Not too concerned with some uncomfortable prisioners. I am concerned with the safety of the guards. The war on drugs has done wonders, eh?


  28. - Generation X - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    Yes how dare AFSCME ask for more money for its members who work inside prisons with some of the most violent individuals in the country. The unmitigated nerve of these evil unions.


  29. - p.offed - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    i hope i get injured by one of theses inmates………………….im gonna sue the ass off of PQ


  30. - Bob - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:09 pm:

    The gangs will soon be running the prison’s like in the 80’s, if not already. Did we forget about the Richard Speck tape? There is not any penalty’s for committing crimes in prison. The thirteen Latin King’s that attacked guards and the Chaplin at Menard? Some of those are being transferred to Medium security prisons? If they commit a murder? There is no death penalty and No Tamms!! As the DOC ship sinks, who is at the wheel? There is no room for parole violators. No room for the criminals in Chicago. Chicago CBS news reported only 33% of criminals with guns go to jail. So if there is no room in the Inn for criminals, watch out! You may think, hey who cares about the poor convicts or the guards. But when the criminals figure out they aren’t going to jail! You may be seeing crime first hand on your street.


  31. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:22 pm:

    It’s pretty hard to defend PQ on this when he pulls stunts like denying the press access to the prisons and then pretends that all is well. He inherited a mess true enough but has done nothing to fix it. The same could be said for what I believe is the real scandal in Illinois and that is mental health. Instead of wasting time with Squeezy the Python and lame PR he should have been out in front on all of this. At least admit that there is a serious problem! You can be part of the problem, part of the solution or part of the landscape……..PQ is sadly part of the landscape.


  32. - highspeed - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:24 pm:

    Danville is either at capacity or already overcrowded. The gyms are not set up adequately. Plus not enough showers or toilets. Recipe for disaster!!


  33. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    I feel a need to remind people that what you are portraying as bad policy decisions are really budget choices where there are no good alternatives.


  34. - Both Sides Now - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:33 pm:

    Let’s get Carnvial cruise line to float a boat on the Mississippi and we can put ship prisoners there!


  35. - Union man - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:49 pm:

    I am no defender of Gov Quinn. However, he is not running the IDOC, Director Godinez is the one who makes these decisions and assures Gov Quinn that he can run the agency just fine with these changes. Gov Quinn didn’t transfer these
    Inmates to less security prisons… Director godinez did. Gov Quinn was assured by Director Godinez that he can run the system without Tamms. He came up with the gym plan and assured the governor that this is safe. I am sure godinez is assuring Henry Bayer that he is just following orders from the Governor. Governor Edgar didn’t allow Richard speck to do his things in prison… Guess who did????? WAKE UP!!!


  36. - Wensicia - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    I think this prison debacle will hurt Quinn, just as with the early release program before the last election.


  37. - Generation X - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:51 pm:

    -I feel a need to remind people that what you are portraying as bad policy decisions are really budget choices where there are no good alternatives-

    I would say that 55 million spent on the “NRI” initiative was not money well spent leading to this terrible policy decision. I’m sure there are other examples that haven’t come to light yet as well.


  38. - SO IL M - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 4:57 pm:

    First you have to remember that this was not about the budget as Quinn claimed. It began in 2010 as the Segregation Reduction Program. Look it up. Quinn and other Progresives knew if they tried to sell their plan to the voters it would go nowhere, so instead they hid it behind the “Budget”. But if that were true, why did they start on this project two years earlier? The only hope for DOC Employees to correct what Quinn and Godinez have done is that Sen. John Jones goes thru with his plan to investigate DOC. But AFSCME isnt completely blameless either. They knew in 2010 what Quinns plans were, and backed him anyway. AFSCME was warned what would go on, and still threw all in on Quinns Progresive ideas. AFSCME also was given the information last spring that Quinn and Godinez went to such great lengths to keep from getting in the press. Has anyone in the Press attempted to find out why they went to such great lengths to silence staff, and what they were hiding? No they havent. As long as the policies of this Administration continue, things will only get worse. Until light shines on DOC from the outside, nothing will change for the better. Hopefully Sen Jones will begin to shine that light.


  39. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    Guess the prison tours will go back to being cancelled.


  40. - blogman - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 5:30 pm:

    Maybe we could buy Thompson Prison from the Feds! Or build a new one. Jobs are important, you know!


  41. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 5:56 pm:

    Smart comment SS @4:28 pm. There’s no way this situation makes PQ HAPpy. He very likely believes he has virtually no choice ala limited areas in which to make significant budget cuts.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Afternoon updates
* Hospitals back removal of income tax sunsets
* The other strategy
* *** UPDATED 1x *** Quinn onboard; Rauner latches onto term limits proposal
* Because Illinois is a real battleground state
* Quinn dodges Rahm question on "Morning Joe"
* Morning Shorts
* Yesterday's blog posts

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