Posts Tagged ‘idoc early release’


Governor Pat Quinn is beginning to face serious criticism for inaction regarding prison overcrowding and prison violence is escalating. So, Quinn is now claiming IDOC is implementing the new sentence credits as a way to reduce overcrowding. Yet, when Quinn first said this yesterday, an IDOC spokesperson indicated it had no firm timeline for implementation of the early release. Today, this is corrected below with Quinn and IDOC stating the first 12 inmates have been selected and will be released next month. It is too bad that it seems to require a surge in prison violence and public criticism rather than humanitarian motivation to get the Governor to move on  this important issue:

Prison officials ready to launch early inmate release program

4 hours ago  •  Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD — State officials said Friday they are finally launching an early prisoner release program that could reduce some of the overcrowding within the prison system and, possibly, reduce some of the violence going on behind bars.

The first of 12 inmates who have been deemed eligible for the program could hit the streets in the coming month as the Illinois Department of Corrections reviews prisoner files to determine who might qualify.

“The new program will allow the department to, after comprehensive review, award up to 180 days of sentence credit to statutorily eligible offenders who demonstrate positive behavior in custody and show a potential for rehabilitation,” a Corrections release stated.

The program comes more than three years after Gov. Pat Quinn suspended an early release program after The Associated Press reported that an estimated 2,000 inmates had spent only days or weeks of their sentences in prison.

Since then, the state’s prison system has mushroomed by more than 3,000 inmates. At the same time, Quinn has moved to close prisons, saying the state cannot afford to keep all of the facilities open.

The combination of more inmates in fewer cells has led to inmates sleeping in gymnasiums and what critics say is a dangerous rise in violence. On Friday, Lawrence Correctional Center and Menard Correctional Center were on lockdown status, while Stateville Correctional Center was on partial lockdown.

John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, said the program could help alleviate some of the pressure on the prison system by reducing the inmate population and giving prisoners an incentive to behave.

But, Maki said, the governor should abandon his plan to close Dwight Correctional Center because overcrowding remains a serious problem.

“Illinois is still going to have a very overcrowded prison system,” Maki said.

The system held 45,000 inmates in prisons designed for 33,000 inmates when the last early release program was terminated in 2009. Projections show the number of inmates is heading toward 50,000 in a system built for 32,000 if the governor moves forward with the closure of the all-female prison in Dwight.

Quinn already has shuttered the super-maximum-security prison in Tamms.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison guards and other state workers, said the program could be a positive step.

“But by the department’s own admission in its latest inmate population projection for 2013, this is not an answer to the state’s huge overcrowding problem,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said. “The overcrowding crisis and accompanying dangers will only get worse unless Gov. Quinn keeps Dwight open and reverses the closure of the four IDOC facilities he recently shuttered.”

Under the new program, offenders must have served at least 60 days within the state prison system to be eligible for credit. Inmate files will go through multiple levels of review before an award is determined, Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said.

The program is aimed at nonviolent offenders. Credits cannot be awarded to inmates serving time for murder, rape, kidnapping and other serious crimes.

Officials also will have the right to revoke credit if an inmate demonstrates negative or violent behavior, which was not permitted under previous programs.

The department must notify local authorities at least two weeks prior to an inmate’s parole if the offender received supplemental sentence credit at any point during incarceration.

The agency said it will not inform those who call the agency whether an inmate will be eligible for credit.

But in an attempt to bring transparency to the process, the new law will require the department to provide annual reports outlining how many inmates received credits.

http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/prison-officials-ready-to-launch-early-inmate-release-program/article_1ca143b8-7d3a-11e2-b5f9-0019bb2963f4.html

 

 

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A lot of people are visiting the website daily wondering if and when something will be posted saying that IDOC is beginning to release inmates from their sentences early by awarding them up to six months of discretionary sentence credits. The internet is awash with individual rumors from inmates and prison staff throughout the state claiming that some one said the state will begin releasing people early at one prison or another within the next couple of weeks, etc.

All these are rumors which are all UNCONFIRMED. So far, no one is able to produce paperwork showing that they have been awarded sentence credits and will be released earlier than otherwise as a result.

So, what does this all mean? Well, so far, while IDOC has said that staff are beginning to review inmate records to see who is eligible to receive what credit, IDOC is still unwilling or unable to commit itself to a specific date by which it will release that first inmate. The most revealing information IDOC has provided to date about how it is going about implementing any early release is the statement in the article contained below, where it said, “…This will be an ongoing, careful and thoughtful process,” Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said in a statement…”

Ill. prisons reintroducing early-release program

That statement seems to suggest that it will take IDOC perhaps a month or two to get anything started. We were able to confirm that no obstacles  officially now remain to IDOC implementing the new rules which have been legally approved. Yet, even the IDOC contact person for the rule-making remains unwilling to give any indication of when a release program might start. So, yes, readers can check back here, other sites and media reports daily, but we also suggest keeping current on the IDOC Community Notification Page website (click here) too.

IDOC is required by law to post current inmate information on every individual it releases as it releases inmates. Up through the end of 2012, IDOC was releasing individuals several times during each month. 2013 releases are easy to distinguish so far this month, because of the year change and because there have been relatively few of them. With the exception of one person who was placed on electronic detention from Stateville CC, inmates released this month committed offenses which would not have made them eligible for any early release. Electronic detention is not quite the same as early release, so we can’t say that it plays a part in this individuals position either.

We suggest though, that one way to reduce the effects of the rumor mill and keep your sanity is too keep an eye on the Community Notification Page as well as media reports. When early release does begin, you will see sentence credit time reductions effecting the release dates of non-violent offenders.

 


In our opinion, Quinn repeatedly shows that he is a hypocrite who is unconcerned about the physical welfare of his constituents despite his constant rhetoric to the contrary. Governor Quinn already, single-handedly, since he entered office has caused IL prison inmates and their families to suffer the most severe hardships in decades by first taking away  early release options, and causing severe overcrowding in state prisons during a time of short-staffing and deteriorating facility maintenance. State prisoners are enduring cockroaches, mice, sweltering heat, more and more frequent lockdowns, property confiscations, and reduced rations, but Quinn apparently does not want anyone to know about this or raise their voices to criticize the dire conditions! Nor, does he seem to want to move quickly to reduce the overcrowding and improve prison conditions. Now he is using misdirection to cite security concerns as justification for attempting to impose a news black-out to restrict public access to prison facilities in order to stop the public from finding out any more facts about just how bad state prisons are right now. Quinn claims to be a “democratic” governor promoting governmental “transparency”, but barring the press from the prisons and threatening IDOC staff whistle-blowers with legal prosecution and /or intimidation is nothing short of authoritarian “Big Brother” tactics and reveals just how resentful and insecure he is of criticism, no matter how justified it may be!

Gov. Quinn says journalists no longer allowed inside prisons

SPRINGFIELD — For years, journalists have been granted limited access to periodically tour Illinois prisons, but Gov. Pat Quinn Friday decreed the state’s lockups are off-limits to the media.

“I think that’s a fundamental policy that we will always follow,” Quinn said, citing unspecified security concerns voiced by top prison officials.

The governor, who often touts his administration as “transparent,” issued his decision in the wake of reports by WBEZ radio in Chicago that its reporters had been turned down numerous times in their attempts to confirm allegations of horrendous living conditions at the overcrowded, minimum-security facilities in Vienna and Vandalia.

The Associated Press also reported Friday that the administration declined an Aug. 1 request to visit Pontiac’s segregation unit, where dangerous inmates will be housed when high-security Tamms prison closes Aug. 31.

“We’re not going to have tours of Illinois prisons. I don’t believe in that,” Quinn said. “Security comes first. It isn’t a country club. I think prisons are there to incarcerate criminals. They are not there to be visited and looked at.”

The decision comes as the Illinois Department of Corrections is attempting to house more than 48,000 inmates in a system built to handle about 33,000 prisoners. The John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison watchdog organization, has documented that prisoners are living in squalid conditions at Vienna and Vandalia.

Along with prisoners being packed into basements, common areas and gymnasiums not originally built to house prisoners, the organization found inmates dealing with infestations of mold, cockroaches and other vermin.

In July, a group of inmates at Vienna filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to improve the conditions.

While WBEZ reporters wanted a firsthand look at the situation, Quinn said top prison brass believe tours by reporters make prisons less safe for inmates and prison workers.

“I think it’s important that we listen to those who are on the front lines of the prison,” the governor said.

The policy switch comes after years of the prisons being occasionally opened for media tours.

In 1997, for example, more than 80 people — including 25 state lawmakers and members of the press — were given tours of the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center and the all-female Dwight Correctional Center.

In 2005, then-state Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, led a contingent of lawmakers and reporters on a similar tour of the facilities, giving the public a close-up look at how the facilities were operating.

In a statement issued Friday, Rutherford, now the state treasurer, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“For the governor to deny such access to a prison, and say we should just trust his administration with running state prisons is uncalled for and out of touch,” Rutherford said. “State prisons are taxpayer funded and may be posing safety threats not just to prison staffers and inmates, but also to communities.”

The move to limit access to facilities apparently began earlier this year when state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, was barred from entering the Murphysboro youth prison in his district. He later was allowed entry after news reports highlighted the incident.

Luechtefeld said the new policy is likely more of a way to avoid bad publicity than a safety issue.

“It’s probably a lot about politics,” Luechtefeld said Friday.

The Quinn administration also is cracking down on prison employees talking with the news media. State police investigators were at Tamms Correctional Center last week, reportedly probing the leak of information obtained by the Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau regarding a plan to ship some dangerous inmates to out-of-state prisons if Quinn gets his way and closes the state’s lone “supermax” facility.

A top prison official also sent a letter to the Lee bureau suggesting that if the names of the inmates being considered for out-of-state placement were printed, guards and inmates could be in danger.

“If you proceed to disclose any information in your possession on this subject beyond yourself, the department will view your actions as attempting to promote disorder within the prison system,” wrote Jerry Buscher, executive chief of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison employees, slammed Quinn for the decision.

“Instead of making prisons more crowded and dangerous, and silencing employees and journalists who blow the whistle, the governor should truly listen to what’s best for public safety and those who serve. Like legislators, prison employees are telling him to rescind his closures, layoffs and reckless inmate transfers at once,” the union said in a statement.


May 31, 2012, State Legislature passes new law paving way for Early Release programs! Read latest at http://richardwanke.com

 

We previously advised readers that any return of the Meritorious Good Time Credit (MGT) which IL Governor Pat Quinn suspended in December 2009, or a new program for the early release of IL inmates would first be publicly announced before the state acted to release anyone. Rumors are spread every month to inmates within the IL Department of Corrections (IDOC) about the anticipated return of MGT. These rumors are false, and as this article shows, IDOC is not about to reinstate MGT.

This article is the first clear and official indication of how Governor Quinn intends to proceed in order to address the extreme prison overcrowding he created in his attempt to win election as state governor. Quinn has so far ignored all inquiries as to why he has not reinstated MGT, but this article basically states that he will not do so; nor will he implement any “early release” program across the board. Rather, it states that Quinn and staff are brainstorming with just a few crucial legislators who deal with criminal justice issues; particularly Rep. Dennis Reboletti, who is a hard-liner on crime.

Rep Reboletti speaks of “alternative sentencing”,  ankle bracelets, treatment centers and halfway houses; terms similar to Quinn’s mention in October 2010 that he would focus on altenative sentencing, but it remains to be seen exactly what, if any, leniency will be included in the methods by which these options will be implemented. Reboletti has never advocated shortening sentences and releasing any inmates early, and his alternative sentencing options may mean just removing prisoners from IDOC and the State’s responsibility and instead making them serve the remainder of their terms elsewhere, such as in local communities.  Given that the State is short on money already and so are most communities; passing the responsibility for prisoner behavior onto localities would be difficult to work out. Yet, if localities accept inmates and themselves release them early, then the State can avoid political flack if anything goes wrong.

Whatever form of compromise is reached between Quinn and his legislators, it is unlikely to apply uniformly across the board for inmates. Some inmates convicted of non-violent offenses will be eligible to participate; yet others committing other offenses may not have that option.  Rep. Art Turner’s legislative overture to set aside the 60 day requirement is certainly doomed. Additionally, since funding sources appear to be non-existent right now, implementing sentencing alternatives and processing individuals by the end of the upcoming Spring legislative session appears to be over-optimistic. ILprisontalk.com is urging it’s members to contact legislators in support of Rep Turner’s bill and HB 3900. We doubt this is necessary. Since legislators tightened eligibility restrictions for awarding MGT, they are unlikely to now loosen them, and Governor Quinn won’t require this. Given who the legislators are that Quinn is negotiating with, Quinn isn’t going to unveil any risky or lenient program for sentence reduction. And, he will not need a prod to act. He will just move when he decides to do so. He can count on legislative support, not opposition, as legislators are not likely to oppose any actions negotiated by both parties and the Governor that they believe will reduce the prison population (and, more importantly, prison costs).

Quinn may have a few more unpleasant surprises up his sleeve. Last year he pushed hard for a state tax increase and got it, but it did not solve the state’s fiscal problems. Illinois is more in the hole than ever, and there are no more magic rabbits for Quinn. Now, his only solutions are to cut state expenses and increase the state’s efficiency, and he is starting to move in ways which may be ruthless. Quinn had seven state facilities on the chopping block for closure last year. Their closures were averted at the time, but he just resurrected two of them last week: Tinley Park and Jacksonville. These serve vulnerable, disabled individuals which Quinn now states he is justified on moving back into the community because he has better plans for their placement and welfare. Quinn’s plans are yet unspecified and may be little better than his initial and criticized plans, yet he is announcing the closures of Tinley Park and Jacksonville as executive and final decisions not subject to re-review. Quinn is using the assertion that because his initial closure plans for these two facilities involved public hearings and a review, that these eliminate the necessity for the same this time around. If Quinn wins on this point, don’t be surprised if he also resurrects the closure of Logan Correctional Center and/or the Chester Mental Health Center.

This is not to say that alternative sentencing is not the solution. It is, but it will not succeed alone. Alternative sentencing options will only take some offenders out of IDOC to relieve prison overcrowding. It does not resolve the overcrowding in the first place, and if the current community mindset with respect to crime and offenders is not changed, then localities will not welcome alternative sentencing options and the placements of offenders.

Supposedly, there has been a statewide push for several years for circuit courts and counties to develop local programs to recognize and correct the problem of persons being sent to prison who either do not need to be there in the first place or who do not benefit by being in prison. While it is known that some individuals are dangerous to society or deserving of severe punishment; IL prisons today are largely filled with more minor offenders who are not rehabilitated but simply warehoused by state prison.  Adult Redeploy was designed to create funding methods for communities to develop alternative court supervision and rehabilitative programs to reserve state prison for serious and dangerous offenders.

Some communities deserve credit for getting their jail populations under control, because they have been proactive in realizing that it is better to rehabilitate rather than punish the citizens who ultimately return to their communities. Other communities have continued to deal harshly with offenders and are just beginning to consider their options as they are finding that they cannot afford the costs of jailing everyone. Unfortunately, much better progress could have been made with Adult Redeploy up to this point in time. Now, if the state also throws responsibility for prison inmates upon these localities, it may swamp them. Not only that, but the state and these localities will face the public unwillingness to host inmates since these localities have been trained for years to criminalize offenders.

The chickens are coming home to roost for IL. On the one hand the state is running out of money as the prison population continues to climb; on the other hand, electoral rhetoric and “Get tough on Crime” politics have created a public atmosphere which is unreceptive to the degree of mindset change required to effectively deal with prison overcrowding in time to avoid embarrassing lawsuits and costly effects.

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AP Exclusive: Lawmakers seek prison crowding fix

FILE – In this April 2004 file photo, eighty-six inmates share a dormitory at the minimum-security Vandalia Prison in Vandalia, Ill. With Illinois’ prison population continuing to rise and Gov. Pat Quinn refusing to reinstate a program that gave well-behaved prisoners early release, lawmakers from both parties are pushing plans this spring to find alternatives to incarceration or other ideas to reduce the state’s packed lockups. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman,File) — AP
By JOHN O’CONNOR, AP Political Writer
3:23 p.m., Jan. 20, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Lawmakers from both parties are seeking ways to reduce Illinois’ growing prison population, and one has introduced legislation to restart a contentious program that let well-behaved prisoners out early.

Gov. Pat Quinn shut down the 30-year-old early release program after The Associated Press reported in 2009 that prison officials had implemented an unpublicized, accelerated version that was springing criminals in as little as eight days.

He has shown no interest in reviving it, but least one legislator is looking at it again as the prison population has grown by 3,000 inmates in two years. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers is meeting with Quinn to find solutions more palatable to the governor and the public.

Conditions inside state prisons are “wretched,” according to John Maki, executive director of the prison watchdog group John Howard Association. Monitoring visits to Illinois lockups in the past year have revealed inmates housed in gymnasiums, standing water in living quarters and rodent problems.

Illinois is not alone in trying to address prison crowding. An August report by the American Civil Liberties Union identified six states that have adopted laws in the past five years to decrease prison populations, with four more working on the issues. One of the more popular tacks among reform states is to expand good-conduct credit, including in Kentucky and Ohio just last year.

Prison advocates nationwide generally support early release as one solution to overcrowding, and Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, has introduced legislation that would restore Illinois’ accelerated early-release program. But the governor previously has said he won’t go along with that, even with new controls imposed by lawmakers, after problems with the program nearly cost him reelection in 2010.

Instead, Quinn’s staff has been working with a group of legislators who plan to pick up the pace when the General Assembly resumes its work later this month. Some told the AP they hope to have a solution by the end of the spring session.

The group includes Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a law-and-order legislator who speaks of being “smart on crime” and advocates alternative sentencing, such as treatment for first- or second-time substance abusers.

“Put them into community-based programs with ankle bracelets, into treatment centers or halfway houses where they can get job counseling or programming to put them back into a productive life,” the Elmhurst Republican said.

As of November, there were 48,620 people incarcerated in Illinois, 144 percent more than the 33,700 for which space was designed, according to the Corrections Department. But department officials now play down those numbers, saying “operational capacity” is about 51,200. That’s after the agency began counting how many people a facility can actually hold, along with what it was designed to house.

For decades in Illinois, the director of the Corrections Department had the discretion to cut sentences with “meritorious good time,” or MGT, by up to six months for an inmate who displayed good behavior behind bars.

But Quinn abandoned the practice in December 2009 after the AP reported that the agency secretly dropped an informal requirement that all incoming inmates serve 60 days behind bars before getting good-time credit in a plan dubbed “MGT Push.” More than 1,700 inmates were released under that program, and some went on to commit more crimes.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Derrick King, for example, was sentenced to three years in prison for a brutal attack on a woman in 2008. He served about a year in county jail and 14 days in state prison before he was released in October 2009 under MGT Push and then arrested the next day on suspicion of assault and sent back to prison.

Lawmakers later put the 60-day minimum sentence requirement into law. An independent review of the accelerated early-release program determined the Quinn administration had failed to consider dangers to public safety in trying to save money and recommended it be reinstated with reforms.

Quinn has not said why his administration will not reinstate the program, although he said in October 2010 he was focusing on “alternative sentencing approaches.” Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson confirmed he’s working with the legislative group to “manage population numbers while continuing to incarcerate – for safety, rehabilitation, and punishment.”

Along with Reboletti, the panel meeting with Quinn’s staff about a solution includes Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale and Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin. Each says he’s open to options that keep the public safe but reduce the inmate population to make prisons safer and spare the state budget. The House Democrats’ representative is parliamentarian David Ellis, the governor’s office said.

Dillard, a candidate for governor in 2010 and potentially again in 2014, said early release is not popular, given the shock of MGT Push.

“My constituents want people locked up,” he said. “They’re tired of people who still should be locked up in the penitentiary (out) committing crimes.”

Nonetheless, he’s open to ideas such as Reboletti’s.

Turner’s bill would reverse the new 60-day minimum prison sentence requirement and give the Corrections director discretion to release anyone who has served 60 days behind any bars, including in county jails. Turner did not return repeated calls and an email seeking comment.

Regardless of the method, something has to happen soon, Maki said.

At Vandalia prison in June, John Howard visitors found dirty, stagnant water pooling on the floor of inmates’ living areas. One dormitory, Building 19, at Vienna prison in September had rodent droppings and inmates complained of mice and cockroaches. Windows on two floors were broken and birds had built nests inside.

“When you put nonviolent offenders in deplorable conditions you’re not going to make this person better,” said Maki, whose report blames Quinn and lawmakers who have cut corrections budgets. “Prisons are not typically uplifting places, but Building 19 was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen.”

Illinois governor to close 2 state institutions

Governor Quinn Announces Active Community Care Transition Plan
Rebalancing Plan Will Increase Community Care Options for People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions


The article below is written by Kurt Erickson and appears on http://www.thesouthern.com. Erickson is one of the few politically savy Illinois media investigative reporters who have been following the long saga and potentially embarrassing story of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s single-handled responsibility for creating a huge fiscal mess for Illinois when he first cut off all discretionary early release efforts to release state inmates by the Illinois Department of Corrections in December 2009, and how Quinn has since then failed to act in any manner to resolve the subsequent massive overcrowding of state prisons which resulted from his action.

This is a huge political story and a wholly, self-created dilemma for the Governor that Republican legislators and fiscal critics should be jumping all over Quinn on. If played up properly by his opponents, he negative publicity Quinn deserves on this issue could suffice to render him and the Democratic party (which is mute on urging Quinn to resolve it) highly vulnerable at the polls come next election.

Basically, at a time when the State is already fiscally broke, Quinn’s action is making all state prisons, “rack, stack, and pack” prisoners who are mostly small-time, minor offenders, which the state can ill-afford to house. Quinn has added millions of dollars to the cost of state corrections, not because he first suspended the early release programs, but because he has since procrastinated since cutting off the programs by failing to take any intermediate actions to resolve the prison overcrowding or to control the actions of IDOC staff at facilites.

Evidently, Quinn’s modius operandi is to procrastinate well beyond any reasonable time period over all important issues. He has dragged his heels over policy and fiscal issues before, but the IDOC prison overcrowding affects the lives and well-being of many families and individuals.

_____________________________________________________________

BY KURT ERICKSON/the Southern.com

SPRINGFIELD – The Quinn administrations decision to continue cramming more inmates into already overcrowded prisons could put the state on the road to a lawsuit.

After packing its own prisons too tightly for decades, California officials were ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in May to slash the inmate population to 137 percent of what the overall system was designed to hold.

That has left the state scrambling to dump more than 30,000 prisoners into county-level jails or privately operated lock-ups over the next two years.

In recent months, however, officials changed the way they calculate capacity.

Instead of using an industry standard based on the number of cells, the state is now measuring capacity based on how many beds can fit in a facility. The new capacity for Illinois prisons is listed at 51,000 inmates.

A key attorney in the California lawsuit says Illinois revamped measuring stick is similar to claiming a three bedroom home can actually sleep 25 people if beds are placed in living rooms, laundry rooms and storage spaces.

“Technically, they can stack triple bunks in every room,” said Rebekah Evenson, a Berkeley-based attorney who helped shepherd the California lawsuit through the legal system.

John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group, said that bureaucratic maneuver could land the state in hot water.”Thats what California got in trouble for,” Maki said. “Were seeing the same kind of stuff.”

DOC differs

Corrections spokeswoman Sharyn Elman said the new capacity number reflects changes that have been made to the original design of the prisons, allowing the agency to say the state is operating at 95 percent capacity.

“Here in Illinois our prison population is not at the over-capacity level,”

Elman noted.Elman, however, said an attempt by the department to gain national accreditation was dropped after the inmate population began to grow. As part of the American Correctional Association accreditation process, prisons must meet certain specifications for square footage per inmate – a standard that may not be possible for Illinois given the additional prisoners.

Evenson said recalculating capacity based on bed space is “very, very irresponsible” because it could lead to numerous problems.

Crowding typically results in more violence behind bars. It also likely means fewer educational opportunities, which already had been reduced because of Illinois on-going budget woes.

“Mentally ill people become sicker,” Evenson said.

The increase in prisoners also has raised concerns about flat or reduced staffing levels of prison guards.

On Thursday, two Republican state senators are planning a press conference designed to spotlight staffing levels within the Department of Corrections. State Sens. John O. Jones of Mount Vernon and Shane Cultra of Onarga both represent districts that have a number of overcrowded prisons within their boundaries.

Solutions?

For now, however, it doesnt appear the Quinn administration has a solution in sight.

There are no plans on the books to build more prisons to help ease overcrowding. In fact, Illinois is in the process of selling an unused maximum-security prison to the federal government.

The department also has not made any public announcements about whether or when it will reinstate an early release program.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents corrections workers, said overcrowding has made the states prison system more dangerous than usual.

“Ignoring the problem is unacceptable,” noted AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. “The state must hire staff to ensure safety and provide rehabilitative programs, and it must develop and implement a responsible good-time policy.”

via Illinois headed toward a prison meltdown?.