flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The measure Rauner signed Tuesday at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln creates a women's division in the Illinois Department of Corrections with tailored programs and services.

A 2016 study encouraged Corrections' development of what Springfield Republican Rep. Tim Butler called Friday policies based on "gender-informed ... and trauma-informed decisions."

The labor union representing Illinois prison workers and the Illinois Department of Corrections agree that assaults on staff have increased in recent years.

DOC counted a 27 percent increase over fiscal years — 566 in the year that ended June 30, 2015, to 761 in the year that ended last June 30. AFSCME projected 819 assaults in calendar year 2017, based on year-to-date data, up from 541 in 2015.

"Electronic Stethescope" By Flickr User Ted Eytan / (CC BY 2.0)

Gov. Bruce Rauner has rescinded his notice to lay off 124 unionized nurses at the Illinois Department of Corrections and move the jobs to a private contractor.

State Rep. Tim Butler of Springfield says it was he and six other Republicans who got the governor to return to the bargaining table.

“I think it’s best for those nurses in that situation that they continue to be state employees,” Butler said. "I mean that’s what we’re advocating for."

Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Department of Corrections says the state’s prison population dropped by 9 percent this past year.

That’s a good start toward Governor Bruce Rauner’s goal of a 25 percent reduction by 2025.

But Jennifer Vollen-Katz, with prison watchdog the John Howard Association, says the hard part is still to come.

“The 9 percent reduction is great, but the next 16 percent is going to be difficult,” she says. “We are really going to have to confront some things that are much more political and more divisive, like truth in sentencing and mandatory minimums.”

"Prison Bars" by Flickr User Michael Coghlan / (CC X 2.0)

Most of the Illinois Department of Corrections workers have completed mental-illness training as part of  a settlement over how prisons treat inmates with mental health disorders.

State Prison Director John Baldwin says the training will make working in prison safer. 

"Seventy-eight percent of all assaults on staff across the United States are committed by an offender with an identified behavioral health issue," he said.