Allowing reporters to tour Illinois prisons can only be helpful in bringing any necessary change to the corrections system. That's according to Dan Rutherford, Republican State Treasurer and former lawmaker from Pontiac. Rutherford coordinated biannual visits for media members and newly-elected lawmakers to the Pontiac Prison during the 90s. He says good things resulted.
"Because of the exposure in the early 1990s that the media and policy makers had available to them by visiting these institutions I believe brought about some of the changes we have today that were different from what it used to be and different changes in a positive way."
Rutherford says those supervised tours helped expose dangerous procedural problems.
"The inmates were allowed to hang their blankets or curtains there so the guards that went down the walkway couldn't see what was going on in there. Now, I mean, who knows...making shanks out of pieces of metal?"
Rutherford says he's not questioning Governor Quinn's authority to keep reporters out of prisons, only highlighting the positive impacts. Rutherford also serves as presumpitve Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Illinois campaign chair. He says the choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as a running mate is great because it provides balance to the ticket as far as work experience and it puts the focus on the economy, where Rutherford says the campaign needs to concentrate.
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