Monday, December 8, 2014

Illinois one of the most overcrowded prison systems in America

Illinois houses an estimated 49,000 people in its prison system, and a recent report finds it’s one of the most overcrowded systems in the nation, according to the Jacksonville Journal Courier. In fact, only Alabama’s prisons are more crowded. The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics’ most recent census of prisoners found Illinois is operating at more than 170 percent of design capacity.
Alan Mills, attorney and executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, pointed out that the Department of Corrections budget has decreased by more than 10 percent in the past few years. He said the human impact is devastating, especially at maximum-security facilities.

“There is not enough capacity to provide programming for these folks,” he said. “There are no more education programs; there aren’t even any jobs for them to do. They simply sit there and stare at the walls, or a TV set if they are ‘lucky’ — and I put that in big quotes — enough to have one. And these are not necessarily all people in segregation.”
The main cause of overcrowding, according to Mills, is the number of nonviolent prisoners, people with mental illness or substance-abuse disorders who he says would benefit more from treatment than from being locked in a cell.

“We’re asking the people who work at the Department of Corrections to do an impossible job, which is to care for a huge number of both physically and mentally ill people with no money,” he said. “And they don’t do a very good job at it — but not because they’re terrible doctors, but because they’re asked to do the impossible.”

A Pew Research Study found Illinois is 50th among states in the amount of money it spends delivering medical services in prisons.

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