The measure signed Thursday by Governor Pat Quinn boosting funding for road projects and child service funding also relies partially on savings from the closure of some prisons. But one of those remains open, with no closure date announced. State representative Josh Harms of Watseka says one reason the state's only all-female prison at Dwight remains open is the Department of Corrections can't replicate some of the prison's services elsewhere. The Republican says those include a state of the art medical facility, vocational programs, and a 'day camp' for the inmates children:
"My understanding is that they're starting to realize that Dwight provides a valuable service for a reasonable cost to the state of Illinois."
Harms says part of the reason Dwight has a lower recidivism rate is because many of the inmates have family members living nearby.
Bloomington Republican Senator Jason Barickman cites public safety with prison overcrowding as his reason for keeping the facility open. And he says the closure of Dwight could become a bargaining chip with the state prison worker's union:
"During those negotiations over their contract, over things like pension reform, I suspect that facility closures are part of that discussion, and it's just impossible to know what the actual outcome will be."
AFSCME union spokesman Anders Lindall says legal efforts to keep Dwight open will continue. And like Barickman, he cites recent attacks by inmates at other state prisons as a reason to think twice before any more transfers take place.
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