Saturday, September 3, 2011

Illinois Prison Population Out of Control

The prison population in Illinois is dangerously high.  After the state halted an early release plan the population soared.   Prison population is at a record high of 49,000, about 147 percent of the system’s capacity.

Inmates are sleeping as many as four to a cell in prisons across the state, being housed on cots no more than two feet apart in basements, and prison staffs are facing greater dangers and have fewer disciplinary and precautionary options, according to Illinois Progress.

Prisoners and guards both are at greater risk. Correctional officers have fewer ways to discipline troubled or unruly prisoners, fewer ways to interdict contraband weapons and substances, and fewer ways to protect inmates who are potential targets of violence or even assassination attempts.

According to the Progress, two state legislators called for improvements. State Senator John Jones and Senator Shane Cultra held a joint press conference urging the Governor to hire more correctional officers and to develop a responsible early release program.

“You can see this train wreck coming,’’ Culta told the Progress. Of particular concern to the lawmakers: the ratio of inmates to guards, which is as high as 34 to 1 on some shifts, they said. That figure is well above the recommended level of seven officers per inmate.

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