Judge Extends Order Barring Prison Closures

October 10, 2012

An Illinois judge is barring Gov. Pat Quinn from going forward with his plan to close two prisons, at least for now.

Circuit Judge Charles Cavaness cited safety concerns Wednesday when he issued the injunction.

It replaces a temporary restraining order he issued last month and requires the prisons to remain open while the administration and a union go through arbitration.

"We have argued, and now three court rulings and an arbitrator's award have concurred that employees will be placed at risk if the governor's closures and inmate transfers go forward," said Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the AFSCME prison workers union. "They'll worsen overcrowding, they'll endanger safety of workers, and we believe ultimately, the public." 

The injunction covers Quinn's plan to close prisons at Dwight and Tamms, as well as three halfway houses, including one in Decatur, and two youth prisons.

The union goes before an arbitrator again next week. 

Aides say the Democratic governor plans to appeal the judge's decision.

Legislators provided money to keep the facilities open, but Quinn vetoed the funds. He says they should be spent on education.

<em>(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Media)</em>

Story source: AP