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State Agrees To Halt Transfers From Prisons Set To Close

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(CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The state’s largest public employee union has won a short-term victory, with the state agreeing to temporarily stop moving inmates from prisons scheduled to close.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – or AFSCME – believes transferring inmates from prisons scheduled to close is too dangerous. Union spokesman Anders Lindall says those transfers will now be stopped, at least temporarily.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports

“What’s really been a reckless reshuffling of inmates has had the impact of further destabilizing those facilities and putting employees at risk,” Lindall said.

Lindall says the union has also filed a lawsuit aimed at permanently keeping open prisons such as the Tamms Supermax facility and the Dwight Correctional Center that Gov. Pat Quinn would like to close.

“You don’t make a prison safer by taking out facilities that safely incarcerate its most dangerous maximum security inmates,” Lindall said.

Illinois Department of Corrections notifications reviewed by the Associated Press listed transfers from Tamms, including John Spires, 57. Spires is a serial rapist who took a Dixon prison psychologist hostage in May 2006 and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

As many as 5,000 prisoners were set to be moved.

In addition to the Tamms and Dwight facilities, the state plans to close youth prisons in Joliet and Murphysboro, and halfway houses in Chicago, Decatur and Carbondale.

The fate of the short-term freeze on inmate transfers will be decided at a hearing next Friday.