Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News that were written by various Illinois Statehouse News reporters.
Closing the Logan Correctional Center may save Illinois taxpayers $9 million in the short term, but potential lawsuits resulting from overcrowding and civil rights violations could burden the state financially in the long term.
The loss of 1,970 beds at the Lincoln facility would force Illinois to squeeze 48,743 into 49,030 beds at the state's 27 prisons, leaving only 287 beds available statewide.
Guards, advocates and the state Department of Corrections, or DOC, say this limited space creates a difficult and dangerous situation because few beds are available for new inmates and inmates who need to be separated from the general prison population.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Logan is one of seven state facilities recommended for closure because of budget shortfalls. Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said lawmakers did not give the governor enough money to run state government for a full year.
Logan's 1,970 inmates would be sent to other prisons, and plans for the transfers have been filed with the Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, which will play a role in deciding if Logan or any state facility closes.
The Department of Corrections estimates it could save $9 million this year by closing Logan, though questions surround the additional cost to other prisons that take in Logan's inmates.
New reports from Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration say that closing seven state facilities will cost Illinois 2,660 jobs and nearly $300 million in lost economic activity.
The governor’s office gave the Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, the closing recommendations and economic impact studies for the seven sites Quinn has targeted for closing.
Those sites are:
- Chester Mental Health Center in Chester;
- H. Douglas Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford;
- Tinley Park Mental Health Center in Tinley Park;
- Jacksonville Developmental Center in Jacksonville;
- Jack Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon;
- Illinois Youth Camp Murphysboro in Murphysboro;
- Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.
Brie Callahan, spokeswoman for the governor, said lawmakers are to blame for the job losses at a time when Illinois’ unemployment rate is more than 9 percent.
“Last spring, the administration made it clear to the General Assembly there would be serious consequences to the budget they passed. … The General Assembly did not appropriate enough funds in these particular lines to keep all these facilities staffed and running for the entire year,” Callahan said.
Quinn, when he announced the closings earlier this month, said 1,900 state employees would be laid off. The other 760 jobs would be indirect losses from restaurants and dry cleaners, for example, because their livelihoods depend on those state employees.
Adam Andrzejewski says he’s not surprised by a new report showing that Illinois remains in a fiscal black hole despite a 67-percent personal income tax increase approved by the Legislature earlier this year.
“The state of Illinois needs to do three things” Andrzejewski said. “That is cut spending, cut spending, and cut spending.”
Andrzejewski, a former GOP candidate for governor, now leads his own group, For the Good of Illinois, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that calls for “limited, accountable and transparent government” and conducts research on the state’s government. For the Good of Illinois also has a political action committee, For the Good of Illinois PAC. For the Good of Illinois says on its website that it uses an “aggressive approach to grassroots advocacy, social media, (and) applies constant to policymakers to act.”
Andrzejewski said lawmakers need to start cutting state spending by focusing on payroll, pensions, and perks.
“The entire 67-percent (personal) income tax hike went to fund the pensions and payroll here in Illinois,” said Andrzejewski. “There are 3,062 public employees that out-earned Governor Quinn. They’re at all levels of Illinois government. Collectively those 3,000 employees soak up $1 billion in total compensation.”