By: Katie Jones
It's been nearly a year long battle but Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is one step closer to closing several state correctional facilities. But local prison workers aren't giving up their fight just yet. Tuesday the Illinois Supreme Court sided with Governor Quinn in his effort to close the facilities but local prison workers say there's still some un–finished business. The East Moline Correctional Center may be hundreds of miles away from Tamms Super Max but local union leaders say they're feeling the pain from Governor Quinn's closures.
"The inmates have become much more aggressive toward staff at every facility. There have been more staff assaults and this problem is going to continue as long as the Governor continues to take this approach," AFSCME Local 46 President Gregg Johnson said. Union leaders said guards continue to deal with dangerous inmates, overcrowding, and short staff. But a Department of Corrections spokesperson said otherwise.
By phone Wednesday she told us inmates and guards are handled safely and properly and closing half empty prisons like Tamms will help dig Illinois out of debt and save taxpayers 100 million dollars a year. But local union leaders said there's got to be another option. "I just hope the Governor and his committee understand that if he does get his way, anything that happens in the future, the blood's going to be on his hands not ours," Johnson said.
The DOC said it's waiting on a judge in Alexander County to lift an injunction forbidding the closures and then they'll move forward. Meanwhile, local union leaders said they'll continue to ask lawmakers for support.