UPDATE, Aug. 17: The state departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice have agreed to continue until August 31 the hold on inmate transfers related to the scheduled closures of prisons, youth centers and adult transition centers in Carbondale, Chicago, Decatur, Dwight, Joliet, Murphysboro and Tamms. The state’s agreement came in a status call with Judge Cavaness this morning.
The union’s request for an injunction preventing the implementation of the closures is in aid of arbitration to resolve grievances regarding employee health and safety and the state’s failure to complete impact bargaining. The arbitration proceeding began on August 14 and will continue on August 23. Judge Cavaness has set another status call for August 27.
The State of Illinois has agreed to halt all inmate transfers related to Governor Pat Quinn’s push to close prisons in Dwight and Tamms, adult transition centers in Carbondale, Chicago and Decatur, and youth centers in Joliet and Murphysboro.
The state’s agreement to stop transferring inmates came in a First District Circuit Court hearing today in Cairo, Illinois. The union that represents prison employees—the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31—sued to enjoin the state from implementing the closure of the targeted facilities, arguing that closing them and transferring inmates to already overcrowded prisons without adequate safeguards poses a grave risk to the personal safety of prison workers.
The freeze on transfers will remain in place at least through the next scheduled court proceeding on August 17.
AFSCME had requested a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the state from further inmate transfers such as those it has made on an accelerated schedule in recent weeks between prisons throughout Illinois. The judge today heard oral arguments on the TRO but did not issue a ruling pending further review.
“We are very pleased that the Quinn Administration’s reckless reshuffling of inmates around the state has been halted,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said. “Conditions are already volatile and dangerous in the prison system, which is jammed with more than 48,000 inmates in facilities built for just 33,000, and Governor Quinn’s push to close these facilities has triggered rising violence among inmates and against employees. The reprieve we won today is an important first step.”
Arguments were also heard today on the state’s motion to dismiss the suit. The union was given until August 17 to submit a detailed brief replying to the motion.
The judge dismissed a motion by the Uptown People’s Law Center to intervene on behalf of the state.