Illinois Prisons Getting More Crowded: 147% Over Capacity


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to continue cramming more inmates into already overcrowded prisons could put the state on the road to a lawsuit, says the Quad-City Times. After packing its own prisons too tightly for deades, California was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in May to slash the inmate population to 137 percent of what the overall system was designed to hold.

That has left the state scrambling to dump more than 30,000 prisoners into county-level jails or privately operated lock-ups over the next two years. Illinois' overall prison population has been hovering significantly above the 137 percent level since Quinn's politically charged cancellation of an early release program. An Aug. 11 population report shows the prison system with nearly 49,000 inmates, which is about 147 percent over its rated capacity of 33,373 inmates and about 4,000 inmates more than were in the system before the early release program was shut down. The state is now measuring capacity based on how many beds can fit in a facility, a move a critic calls “very, very irresponsible.”

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