Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Farewell Dwight and Tamms...

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn plans to tackle the growing Medicaid health care and pension problems with the possible closure of Tamms Correctional Center, a maximum security prison and the women’s maximum security prison in Dwight, along with six other Adult Transition facilities. These closures can potentially help pay out the state’s 8.5 billion dollar debt by generating a projected $720 million dollars beginning by July 1. Quinn plans on moving the inmates from Tamms in the maximum security to Pontiac, while moving the minimum security inmates to Vienna. For the women in Dwight, they will be moved to Logan correctional facility and the people in the transition centers, they will be sent home and monitored through electronic ankle bracelets.
Saving money is very important for an effective government to operate, but Quinn’s supermax budget cut fails to recognize the jobs cutting. The number of job cuts could reach upward to 3200. Now compared to the entire state of Illinois that’s not a lot of people, but these are the people that worked hard for years and earned their pension plans, only to have it squashed by a governor trying to fix a terrible budget situation, that he most likely created in the first place. Under Quinn, the number of inmates raised inside a prison designed to hold 33,700 to now holding 48,600.

 The problem with Quinn’s potential budget cut is that it fails to recognize the job loss, and doesn’t really give an opportunity for these workers to be relocated or transferred. He believes that the cut of 3200 jobs would be terrible, but with the cut in order, other agencies would be given an opportunity to take the workers in and grow, which would in turn only loose around 750 to 100 jobs. After reading this article, I feel this is more of an ethical dilemma then a fiscal choice. On one extreme, Quinn can save a ton of money, refinance, and distribute the wealth more accordingly, or he can pass on the cut and, save jobs, and maybe utilize Thomson prison?

WGN Chicago--Quinn's Tuesday conference on the closing proposition (Video)
Whatever the case is, Quinn has a very important decision to make, but to me he’s making the wrong decision because after reading the article, his budget chief, even believes this “saved money” will be eaten up through current employed pension plans and through the rising rate of poverty. I digressed, but in all reality Quinn has the opportunity to consolidate a few overcrowded prison systems and make them probably worse, and in the end cut thousands of jobs, or he can re-strategize this game plan and find another way to save on budget. I however could see where he is coming from by trying to close Tamms because it is a very southern rural prison where the average cost of the inmate is $64,111. Tamms was designed to hold around 753 inmates while the current population is only 408. As of Dwight, it holds around 1212 women, with a current population of 1018 averaging about $34000 per inmate. Now looking at these small numbers, it makes me wonder if it is a good idea or a bad idea. As of now I am still baffled at what should be done and what could be done.
 Another problem I have with this idea is that since 2009, a maximum security prison has been sitting in a very quite rural town in northern Illinois, where only the minimum security prison has been used until 2010 where it closed for good. If Quinn was to maybe close three smaller prisons and make use of a giant empty one, he could make budget, but then again, I am not majoring in finances…
To me, this situation poses many problems with me. Should he create this budget cut? Does he relocate the soon to be jobless employees? Where can we send the people? Will their pensions still pay out? If Quinn wants this plan to work he is going to have to adapt his department of corrections and fix the prison overcrowding way before he fixes the budgets in the department.

What do you think? I am still hoping for the best and not the loss of jobs

Works cited
Illinois Department of Corrections
Chicago Tribune story


  1. This is an extremely important issue for criminal justice students to address. The governor's decision will directly affect the criminal justice system in terms of employment and policing practice. Employment will be drastically cut, particularly within corrections. Parole departments will undoubtedly be burdened with more workload; however, I am doubtful that more paroles officers will be hired.

    Aside from employment, there is simply no room to add addition inmates to other institutions. The governor seems to think he can take the prisoners to pontiac; however, pontiac is nearly at full capacity as well. Bottomline, I do not believe it will be possible for the governor to carry out this plan.

  2. I agree with Aaron, this is serious stuff that ultimately effects not only the employed, but the families, local economy and education around that area. Legislation and government officials seem to be living there own little fairy tale life, unaware of the consequences of their actions. I would like to imagine that his action is armored by several administrators that are influencing his decision. Quinn has had a tendency in the past to make wild claims and decisions without the support of other officials. If this plan is carried out 3200 workers will be unemployed. Im not sure about anyone else but there must be a very large incentive to cut that many employees. I fear for the ones that will be cut. All because of a large state deficit, these workers will be stranded, searching for another career to help support their family.

  3. I agree with both comments above. I feel like we will lose alot of jobs but then again wont be also be busier as police officers since some of these people will be out on the streets again, etc? I feel that it will be a very bad idea for Quinn to do this and hope that he doesnt close these prisons.