Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Judge issues order halting prison closures

An Alexander County judge has issued a restraining order to block Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to close several state corrections facilities.

 According to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, Judge Charles Cavaness issued the order today in Alexander County Circuit Court.

Quinn had intended to shutter a super-maximum-security prison near Tamms, a women’s prison in Dwight, adult transition centers in Decatur, Carbondale and Chicago and youth prisons in Joliet and Murphysboro, but AFSCME sued to block the closures. The union argued that moving prisoners to other overcrowded facilities would create unsafe working conditions for its members. In his order, Cavaness wrote that the closures "have the potential to make the prisons that remain more dangerous for employees."

An arbitrator ruled Friday that the closures violate the union's contract with the state and ordered Quinn and AFSCME to resolve the issue through ongoing contract negotiations.

Last month, Quinn temporarily stopped layoffs and the transfer of inmates, saying he would hold off on implementing his plan while legal proceedings played out. However, Kelly Kraft, a Quinn spokeswoman, said the administration is not backing down from the closure plan. “We are examining options.” She said Quinn hopes to resolve the matter quickly.


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