Prison Population at All-Time High; State Denies Report

September 17, 2012

The number of people locked up in Illinois prisons has hit an all-time high while Gov. Pat Quinn battles with state employees over closing several correctional facilities.

State records analyzed by The Associated Press show the population hit 49,154 over the weekend. That's 19 inmates more than the Corrections Department's previous record, set on Oct. 6, 2011.

The prisons were designed to hold 33,700 people. Last spring corrections officials declared a downward trend in prison numbers and predicted an overall average for the year of less than 46,000.

Quinn wants to close five correctional centers - a loss of 1,700 more beds - to save money in a budget crisis. A lawsuit by a state employees' union has stalled that.

UPDATE:  The Illinois Department of Corrections is disputing an Associated Press analysis that the state's prison population has hit an all-time high.

Agency spokeswoman Stacey Solano says the figure of 49,154 is incorrect and the record has not been broken. She says there are 49,044 behind bars.

Story source: AP