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Judge Delays Quinn’s Push To Close Prisons

Prison fence

(CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An Illinois judge is barring Gov. Quinn’s plan to close two prisons, at least for now, citing safety concerns.

A court injunction requires the prisons to remain open while the administration and a union go through arbitration.

It covers Quinn’s proposal to close prisons at Dwight and Tamms, as well as three halfway houses and two youth prisons.

John Mackey, Director of John Howard Association prison reform group, told WBBM Newsradio: “To reduce prison population to level that allows safe closing of prisons will require prison reform, including elimination of incarceration for minor parole violations.”

The state, he says, is holding too many minor parole violators, for curfew or drug infractions.

Mackey says there are 49,000 prisoners in a system designed to handle 34,000. He agrees that the youth prisons, which are essentially empty, could be closed.

Illinois lawmakers provided money to keep the facilities open, but the governor vetoed the funds, saying the money should be spent on education.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody Reports