Want to know what conditions are like inside Illinois' prisons? You'll have to take someone else's word for it, reports IllinoisWatchdog.org. For the most part, that someone must be the state of Illinois or the union that represents correctional officers and other prison workers. Gov. Pat Quinn is steadfast in his opinion that media tours of the state's taxpayer-funded prisons, even the minimum-security ones, are a security risk and not a good idea. “Prisons aren't country clubs. They're not there to be visited and looked at. I think we have to make sure they're secure, and I think the security of the public is paramount when it comes to prisons,” Quinn said.
Chicago public radio station WBEZ said one of its reporters was turned down when he asked for a tour of the minimum-security prison in Vienna to investigate conditions there for prisoners. Other reporters' prison tour requests have been turned down, as well.”I think it's important that we listen to those who are on the front line at the prison with respect to working there and understanding their decisions regarding the safety of the prison,” Quinn said. “Our corrections officials who are running the prisons are wardens. They have expertise that we ought to pay attention to.” Alan Mills of the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago, which represents Illinois inmates in legal cases, said Quinn is off base. “Clearly, not only is it in the public's interest, I think it's the public's right to know what's going on in the prisons. Government should never be able to force the public to rely on its own version of the events. That's what journalists and outside watchdogs are for,” Mills said. “The argument about security is hogwash.”