Gov. Quinn to Allow Prison Tours
By Sean Crawford
News reporters can expect tours of Illinois prisons. Gov. Pat Quinn’s Administration appears to be changing its tune on allowing reporters inside state prisons.
After barring journalists from the state's prisons, the Illinois Department of Corrections has reversed course. But Friday afternoon, DOC announced it would allow media tours after all.
Previous requests to tour state prisons have been turned down due to security precautions.
But a news release from the Governor's staff today says the Department of Corrections is working to schedule media tours of prisons.
Correction spokeswoman Stacey Solano says despite the change, "safety and security continues to be the department's top priority.''
The prisons tours will be held starting next month and into January at three prisons in Vienna, Vandalia and Pontiac.
It says access will remain at the Corrections Director's discretion. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has been among those criticizing Quinn’s decision to bar the media from correctional facilities.
In an email reacting to the new policy attorney Jeffrey Colman wrote that “opening the prisons to media review for the first time in several years is a positive development,” but he also wrote, “IDOC practices—including its new directive—violate constitutional guarantees and deprive the public of the ability to see how its hundreds of millions of dollars of tax money are spent.”
The policy shift comes after news this week that a group of college students from Heartland Community College in Normal were allowed to tour the Pontiac prison.
The Agency says they were only allowed in administrative areas, not where inmates are held.
Reporters will have to rely on pen and paper, but cameras and audio recorders won't be allowed.