Illinois Agrees to Temporarily Halt Prisoner Transfers


Gov. Pat Quinn's administration has agreed for now to stop moving inmates out of Illinois prisons that he plans to close. It is a temporary victory for the union that represents prison workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the agreement is an important first step. Spokesman Anders Lindall said Gov. Quinn's administration has been "reckless" in its rush to move troubled inmates from the "supermax" prison at Tamms. He said dangerous prisoners were sent to facilities that are not ready to handle them.

"That poses a threat to the safety of prison employees -- to the safety of orderly offenders who might be at risk from violent inmates," Lindall said. "It poses a risk, ultimately, to the public safety."

Of course, it also poses a risk to the jobs of hundreds of members of the state's largest public employee union.

The state and union are to meet with an arbitrator next week on the issue of safety related to the closures. But the union ultimately would prefer to stop the closings altogether.

On that score, it's not clear AFSCME can prevail. Quinn said he is committed to closing the prisons. Although lawmakers left money in the budget to keep them open, Quinn used his veto power to turn it down.

Inmate transfers are on hold until a judge in Alexander County, which is in far Southern Illinois where Tamms is located, reviews the situation at the end of next week.

Story source: AP