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Prison closure issue heads to court

Tue, 30 Oct 2012 03:47:37 CDT

The union that represents Illinois correctional workers is continuing its fight to keep Governor Pat Quinn from closing two prisons and several other facilities. Now that an arbitrator has ruled in favor the Quinn administration, both sides are taking the fight back to court. Quinn says he wants to close the prisons in Tamms and Dwight and juvenile centers in Joliet and Murphysboro, but the prison workers' union, AFSCME, points out that Illinois prisons are already teeming at 150 percent of capacity.   Union spokesman Anders Lindall says that leads to dangerous conditions:

"The state's budget problems don't excuse Pat Quinn from providing that safe workplace for the men and women of the Illinois Department of Corrections or Juvenile Justice."
The closures have been on hold while the union negotiated with the administration, but an independent arbitrator says the state has taken enough precautions. A Quinn spokesman says that's good news for taxpayers, that the closures would save about $100 million a year. Both sides are turning to courts, though on opposite ends of the state. The administration is asking a Cook County judge to let the closures proceed. The union is suing in far southern Illinois, where prisons are a big employer.

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