Edgar Leery of Quinn’s Plan for Prison Closures
By Jeff Bossert
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar says he’s sympathetic to current Governor Pat Quinn when it comes to state finances.
But Edgar says leadership needs to be careful when calling for prison closures. The Republican says he worried about the potential for riots in overcrowded facilities during his time in office.
That’s why Edgar says he’s most concerned about Quinn’s plan to close the Supermax prison at Tamms, which he says would remove the threat of sending prisoners to a site for the most violent offenders.
As for other budget cuts, Edgar says Gov. Quinn needs to start with a pledge to initiate no new programs.
"And if you do have an emergency and you find you have to create a new program, then if you do that you have to identify a program you're going to get rid of. And it's not like a lot of these things are wasteful. You just have to set a priority of what's essential, and what's necessarily essential. And those are tough decisions. I mean, I went through that in the early 90's, and I'm very sympathetic to what the governor has got to face."
Despite what he calls a 'botched' prisoner early release program in 2010, Edgar says that might deserve another look as well, as long as corrections officials know who can safely return to society.
Quinn’s efforts to close the Tamms and Dwight prisons, as well as some adult transition centers and juvenile facilities, are currently held up in a legal battle with the state’s AFSCME prison workers union, citing safety concerns.