East Moline Corrections Officers React to Quinn's Early Release - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

East Moline Corrections Officers React to Quinn's Early Release Program

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Prison overcrowding is a problem across Illinois. New numbers show there are more than 49,000 inmates in space designed for just 33,000. It's why Governor Pat Quinn's administration is reintroducing an early inmate release plan.

And that is something local union reps say they agree with. President of AFSCME Local 46 Gregg Johnson say the state has to solve the prison crowding problem. "You may have had an inmate room that had two in it, they may have 7 or 8 right now. The population boom has put everybody in harms way, it really has."

Johnson tells us there are 160 officers at East Moline right now, and more than 1,400 inmates. The State puts that number at just under 1,300. But both say it's too many. Gregg Johnson says his officers see it with fights on a nightly basis. And he says the rest of us do too, blaming overcrowding for a riot in July of last year and two recent escapes. One last August, and another the October before. "We're getting inmates now," Johnson says, "that are not properly classified as minimum security inmates. And they're coming here and they want out."

An early release plan that let prisoners out for good behavior was suspended three years ago, after reports found 1,700 inmates had been released within weeks, or even days, of arriving at prison. "If time is lost through misconduct, we don't feel it should be reinstated back to them, or it takes the teeth out of the policy," Johnson says.

The new plan will take just six months off some prisoners' terms. It requires a mandatory 60-day stay. Union reps say they'll support it, if its administered responsibly. Johnson says, "We have a great reason to question the competency of any decisions that come out of the Quinn administration. When it comes to corrections, his track record is just woeful."

He says the bottom line is, he wants his people to be safe. And union reps say they are concerned about Governor Quinn's plan to close prisons and juvenile centers at a time when they are most needed.

Meantime, there is no timetable yet for when this early release program will begin.