Arbitrator Postpones Illinois Prison Closures

Aug 31, 2012

Two Illinois prisons targeted for closure will stay open for at least another month. An arbitrator ruled today that Governor Pat Quinn and his administration violated the rights of union workers by rushing the process.

The governor had wanted to close Tamms and Dwight prisons, as well as several juvenile facilities, by Friday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued, however, and the issue was sent to an arbitrator. Arbitrator Steven Bierig ordered state government to continue negotiating with AFSCME about the closures. They have until the end of September to work out closure plans.

Union spokesman Anders Lindall says they’re not just concerned about losing jobs, but about the safety of workers left guarding inmates in less secure prisons.

Quinn says because of the state’s budget crisis, Illinois cannot afford to keep the prisons open. State lawmakers disagreed and provided funding for the facilities, but Quinn vetoed that funding.