An Illinois Senate panel has approved Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice to oversee the state Department of Corrections despite objections from Republicans.
Monday’s 7-2 vote on Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez (goh-DEEN’-ez) came during a hearing in Chicago. […]
The Senate Executive Appointments Committee meeting was held a day before Tuesday’s election.
State Sen. Tim Bivins from Dixon is the panel’s ranking Republican. He says Monday’s vote creates an unusual appearance.
Godinez also defended the agency against the perception that the facilities are overcrowded. Currently, there are nearly 50,000 inmates in a system built to house about 32,000 prisoners.
Godinez said there are enough beds for inmates, if you count putting bunks in gymnasiums, but the high numbers of inmates mean prisoners don’t receive the kinds of educational and vocational classes they should be receiving.
“We’re overcrowded because we don’t have enough programs for everybody,” Godinez said.
He won praise from Democrats for implementing an early prisoner release program that has resulted in just 3.9 percent of those inmates returning to prison.
“We’re jumping on these guys if they aren’t adhering to the basic parole rules,” Godinez said. “Our efforts so far have been miraculous.”
*** UPDATE *** From the Department of Corrections…
During yesterday’s confirmation hearing, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director Salvador “Tony” Godinez never said there are enough beds for inmates—if you count putting bunks in gymnasiums. That would be wildly inaccurate since only 24 of 48,400 inmates in our system are housed in one former gym space. 24.
IDOC no longer needs gyms for housing,and last summer we eliminated gym use; these 24 inmates stayed while permanent conversation was planned. In fact, the Director actually said this insignificant number of 24 will be out of gyms in two weeks.
Further, we do not have nearly 50,000 inmates in this system. It is currently 48,400. That’s closer to 48K than 50K. The difference is almost what would be in one prison.
Finally, this important fact. Director Godinez never said it is “98% true” that he spends more time visiting with inmates than staff. Mr. Godinez three times described how he had made an average of more than 50 visits to Illinois prisons each year during his three years as Director and that he “visits every area, every employee, from officers to health care workers to the records office.”
His actual quote referenced that 98% of the time he “bypasses the Warden’s office and goes directly into the prison,” whereas his predecessors’ typical prison tours amounted to “staying in the Warden’s office, drinking coffee.”