Prison intake center focus of Ill. crowding complaint – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL

Posted: December 30, 2013 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

By John O\’Connor

The Associated Press

Posted Dec 28, 2013 at 6:20 PM

SPRINGFIELD – Inside what could be Illinois\’ most important correctional facility – its main inmate intake center – hundreds of newly convicted prisoners are sleeping in a gym, a health care unit, converted common spaces and \”staging areas\” next to bus garages after they arrive from county jails, The Associated Press has learned.

While not the most desirable setup, prison officials describe it as a secure scene and the best they can do with limited resources.

But the situation has led the classification center at the Stateville prison near Joliet to become the latest focus in the ongoing dispute between state officials and prison guards over whether Illinois\’ correctional system is too crowded.

Correctional officers and their union leaders say the fact that scores of inmates are sleeping on mattresses in portable plastic boxes belies recent statements by the Illinois Department of Corrections director who insists the prisons are not too crowded. Guards and others say the problem is lack of bed space at the state\’s two dozen prisons, and that it poses safety concerns for inmates who are being introduced to the prison system for the first time.

\”If we\’re not overcrowded, why do we have hundreds of inmates not sleeping in housing units (prison cells)?\” asked Ralph Portwood, a Stateville correctional officer and local president for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. \”It\’s a disaster waiting to happen.\”

The debate over prison crowding has reached a fever pitch in recent years. AFSCME – worried about employees being overworked and the potential for inmate violence – is pushing the state to hire more guards and reduce crowding.

State officials, who are trying to manage the problem during tight budget times, say they are taking necessary steps to protect workers and run a safe system.

It\’s all playing out against a backdrop of Gov. Pat Quinn\’s closure this year of two major prisons because of the budgetary constraints, something AFSCME filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to oppose.

There are about 49,000 inmates in space originally designed for 32,000 – though the Department of Corrections argues the design was based on one inmate per cell, which is not a common practice anywhere in the U.S. today. Most cells have two inmates each. Meanwhile, there are nearly a quarter fewer employees working for the department today than 10 years ago – about 10,850 compared with 14,250.

\”Illinois prisons are crowded but not overcrowded,\” Corrections Director S.A. \”Tony\” Godinez said in a written statement he gave the AP this week. \”We may not have a lot of extra space, but we have enough space to do our job properly and that includes humanely.\”

via Prison intake center focus of Ill. crowding complaint – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL.

  1. Tasha says:

    Hi my husband was sentence to a year at 50% and i am just trying to see if he will get god time or ssc as you guys call it now. I also hear that stateville is over crowded and they r housing ppl n areas that they r not suppose to welk my husband is disable and can’t b sleeping on floors am just trying to see as of today what’s going on


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