While many states are reducing their prison populations, the number of inmates locked up in Illinois prisons is at an all-time high, says the Associated Press. The population is up while Gov. Pat Quinn battles with state employees over closing correctional facilities. The corrections department disputes the AP's findings and says the number is about 100 inmates lower. The news service says the department's own numbers confirm that the prison population has grown to near-record highs despite its prediction of a decline in incarcerations.
The AP says the prison population hit 49,154 over the weekend. That's 19 inmates more than the previous record, which the agency said last week was set Oct. 6. The AP's analysis was done using inmate data made public by the department on its website. The dubious milestone for a system designed for 33,700 inmates comes after promises last spring that the prison population would continue to decline. A corrections report at the time forecast the population would reach 49,000, but not until January 2013. Quinn wants to shutter major prisons and three halfway houses because of a budget crisis. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees won a court order last month to delay the closures until the two sides negotiate terms regarding workers' safety and fate of displaced staff members.