Study Says Illinois Needs More Prison Beds; State Disagrees


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.


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