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Illinois Law Enforcement Jobs with Prison In Question

Posted on November 13, 2008

Hundreds of Illinois law enforcement jobs are in question as a union and the State of Illinois are at legal odds with one another.

The Illinois Department of Corrections is planning to close the Pontiac Correctional Center by the end of the year, a move that could eliminate 570 jobs and save $4 million per year. However, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees recently filed a lawsuit against the IDOC to stop it from closing the facility and cutting jobs. According to an article by the Fort Mill Times, the prison is the town’s second-largest employer.

The state plans to move inmates from Pontiac, which is a maximum-security prison, to smaller prisons not built to handle maximum-security prisoners. Many of Pontiac’s 1,600 prisoners have been reclassified from medium-security to minimum-security and transfered to minimum-security prisons such as the Vienna Correctional Center in Johnson County and other prisons in Moline and Taylorville. Half of the inmates will be moved to a prison in Thomson.

“Pontiac is an essential part of a safe prison system, and without it, all Illinois prisons, staff, inmates and communities are at greater risk of violence and personal harm,” AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer said in the article.

The lawsuit itself cites examples of security problems at the prison, including an incident in which about 150 inmates were moved out of a medium-security prison in Lawrence to make room for some of Pontiac’s maximum-security prisoners. That prison, which now houses 100 Pontiac inmates, lacks catwalks or towers in housing areas, items essential in a maximum-security prison to place armed personnel and ensure security.

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