Friday, October 12, 2012

Illinois' plan to close seven prisons stopped

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close seven state corrections and juvenile justice facilities, including Tamms super max prison, is in serious jeopardy after Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness sided with AFSCME issued an injunction to stop the shut downs, according to Progress Illinois.

AFSCME sued, claiming that the governor broke the union’s contract by not negotiating over the closings' potential impact. The union also said that the shut downs would pose a danger to their employees, arguing that the closures would exacerbate an already significant prison overcrowding problem.

But Quinn’s plan could still go forward. A higher court might overrule Cavaness or a labor arbitrator may side with the governor in their dispute with the AFSCME Council 31 public employees union, which represents corrections and juvenile justice employees.

For now, the state will indefinitely continue to pay what Quinn’s office estimates to be $7 million a month to keep the facilities open.

One consequence of the ruling is that the governor’s desire to shift $57 million that would have been saved from the closings to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) during the Illinois General Assembly’s November fall veto session probably won’t happen.

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