Closing memo

SPRINGFIELD - Memos distributed to state employees Tuesday say Gov. Pat Quinn has made a "final decision" to close prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth facility in Murphysboro and inmate transition centers in Carbondale and Decatur.

The one-page letter distributed to workers at the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice said the facilities would be shuttered by Aug. 31.

It was not clear Tuesday whether Quinn also would go forward with closures of other state facilities, including centers for developmentally disabled Illinoisans in Centralia and Jacksonville.

The governor announced his plans to shutter the facilities in February, saying the closures would save $88 million during tough budget times.

But lawmakers in May approved a spending plan that includes money to keep the facilities operating. Quinn has not yet signed the budget.

According to state figures, the Decatur Adult Transitional Center has about $2.1 million in annual operating costs, houses 105 inmates and employs 22 staff members. A legislative hearing will not be mandatory to discuss the closure because of the low number of staff affected.

Inmates serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections can apply for such work-release programs as those provided by the state’s adult transitional centers that will let them serve out the final months of their sentences in part by working and drawing a paycheck or performing mandatory volunteer work.

Aides to the governor were mostly mum Tuesday in the wake of the memo's release. Budget office spokeswoman Kelly Kraft would only describe the memo as "accurate."

Democrats and Republicans slammed Quinn on Tuesday for his apparent decision to ignore the legislative budget plan and potentially make an overcrowded prison system even more overcrowded.

"To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement," said state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville. "Multiple times we have asked the governor about his long-term plans for corrections, and each time the administration responds with ineptness and a lack of coherent thoughts."

State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, called the move to close Dwight "reckless."

"They are clearly not thinking about the effect this decision will have on the local community as well as the safety impacts on our correctional system," Cultra said in a statement.

This story will be updated.

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