Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker says prison facilities must be replaced: “This is not an optional issue” (Updated)
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Pritzker says prison facilities must be replaced: “This is not an optional issue” (Updated)

Monday, Apr 15, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First, some background…

    * Chicago Reader | Pritzker proposes closing two prisons—temporarily: Governor J.B. Pritzker recently announced a $900 million proposal to raze and rebuild two of the state’s oldest prisons. It follows an independent report released last year that found a prison system in disrepair. Housing units at Stateville Correctional Center, the report found, “are not suitable for any 21st century correctional center.” Many of the prison’s buildings are in a state of “complete degradation, inoperability, and need for replacement.” Logan Correctional Center, one of the state’s two women’s prisons, is “inefficient, ineffective, and unsuitable for any population,” according to the study. The report shows what people incarcerated in Illinois have long said: the state’s prisons are crumbling. Lead paint and black mold decorate cell walls. Hot water is hard to come by, and the water that does flow is brown and contaminated.

    * WTTW | Pritzker Announces $900M Plan to Demolish, Rebuild Stateville and Logan Prisons: But the [John Howard Association] questioned the necessity of rebuilding the facilities and called for their permanent closure. “This announcement does not address the fact that the Illinois prisons are currently well under capacity, with close to 12,000 excess prison beds throughout the system; we can and should also permanently close some of our worst prisons. This makes good sense financially and morally,” the association said. The possibility that the prisons won’t be rebuilt is largely why AFSCME, a politically powerful ally of Democrats that represents 90,000 active and retired public employees, has “grave concerns.”

* Pritzker was asked today about how the process is going

Q: Do you have an update on the plans to rebuild the Stateville and Logan prisons?

Pritzker: I don’t think there’s any update that you’re not aware of. There there will be hearings. That’s part of the process when you’re trying to close down or rebuild these kinds of facilities.

So there will be public input in both of those communities. And then of course, the legislature itself will be weighing in on the investment in those new facilities.

But let me be clear, we have to replace those facilities. I mean, this is not an optional issue. There are lawsuits that have been brought to court in Illinois, decisions that are pending, that would require, likely, the closure or replacement of those facilities.

So we want to get ahead of that and make sure we’re doing the right thing. This should have been done frankly, many years ago, and it’s been put off because of the lack of resources. Now we have the resources to do it. But we shouldn’t have waited even this long. It’s the right thing to do now for the safety of the correctional officers and the safety of the prisoners.

(Thanks to Isabel for the transcript.)

…Adding… Sun-Times

Brian Harrington remembers the water in prison.

Sometimes it was brown, or maybe it had black particles. Sometimes it smelled bad, he said.

“You would wake up, and it smelled like a sewer,” he said.

Harrington was 14 when he was sentenced to 25 years for murder. He served just over half that time before Gov. J.B. Pritzker granted him a rare clemency in 2020.

Now Harrington advocates for more humane treatment and better conditions for those incarcerated in the state prisons.

He’s part of a coalition of groups that Monday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking that officials there step in and require the Pritzker administration to provide clean water to prisoners.

The petition alleges “chronic and systemic shortcomings” within the state’s departments of corrections, public health and environmental protection.

       

11 Comments
  1. - Lurker - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    Thank you Gov for recognizing that demolishing and rebuilding is the best plan of action. I wish others in Illinois could embrace this concept instead of constantly wasting money on old, useless structures.


  2. - I Love Decatur - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:29 pm:

    This Governor is an honest Governor who appears to be trying to follow the process. Not sure why that process wasn’t followed two years back in relocating IDOC positions out of Sangamon County into Macon County or Green County IIP or Dixon Springs IIP closures. I guess those locations were small enough to not require hearings.


  3. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:48 pm:

    - So there will be public input in both of those communities. -

    I don’t see where he makes a commitment to rebuild in those same communities, am I missing something.


  4. - Southern Dude - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:10 pm:

    == I don’t see where he makes a commitment to rebuild in those same communities, am I missing something.==

    You aren’t missing anything. If he was committed to rebuilding in the same location, there is enough ground already there to build on site. He could skip these hearings and start construction.


  5. - bluey - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:16 pm:

    He actually announced that Stateville is being torn down and replaced on the same site. Did you miss the original announcement?


  6. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:26 pm:

    ==He could skip these hearings==

    I’m pretty sure he can’t. Whether he is rebuilding them in the same place or not he is still “closing” a facility and you have to have a hearing for that.


  7. - Southern Dude - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:33 pm:

    == I’m pretty sure he can’t. Whether he is rebuilding them in the same place or not he is still “closing” a facility and you have to have a hearing for that.==

    If he was building on grounds at these facilities that is already owned by the State, and there is plenty of ground, there would be no need for the closure.


  8. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:36 pm:

    “He actually announced”

    I’ve noticed the gov is a master at saying exactly what he should say, and no more.

    What you have quoted, is not what he said.

    In March, he said in his press release *it is anticipated* Stateville will be torn down and rebuilt on the same grounds.

    He did not say it will be. That has not been finalized yet. It may well be finalized in the future, but the sun hasn’t risen on that day yet.


  9. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:01 pm:

    - Did you miss the original announcement? -

    No, but I did forget about it. Thanks.


  10. - Huh? - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 4:05 pm:

    SHPO might have a thing or two to say about the demolition of these prisons. It will be years before the new prisons are opened.


  11. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 6:16 pm:

    What idiot in the Governor’s office decided to go public with this plan before bringing the unions that all have a stake in this plan to the table to give them the decency of finding out directly instead of by unexpected press release, and it probably would have been a good idea to include at least some of the legislators.

    So far JB is better at being a partner in governoring to private companies than he is to state workers.


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