An independent study of Illinois’ prison system argues that the state should be preparing to add space for inmates rather than pushing to close prisons, Lee Newspapers report. In a lengthy report that was kept under wraps by Gov. Rod Blagojevich for more than a year, consultants say the state will need more than 54,000 beds for inmates within the next eight years. Currently, there are 51,300 available. The report was written by a Peoria-based engineering firm, PSA Dewberry.
Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said the agency disagrees with the report. He says internal growth projections don’t show a need for additional bed space. Schnapp said the agency could put two inmates in some cells, which would reduce the need to build new space. The $411,000 study, completed in September 2007, was released at the request of lawmakers as part of Blagojevich’s push to close the 1,600-bed Pontiac Correctional Center. Officials say the closing would save about $8 million over two years.