The administration of Illinois state prisons has been under the spotlight over the last several months, after the brutal gang-related prison abuse and homicides at the correction facility in Orleans was in the news for a long time. As the state prepares to execute its plan for saving the state’s prisons, its prisons chief is being criticized by the public, the legislature, and even fellow prison officers for the way he has handled this crisis. While the Governor has inherited the problem, he has not addressed it the way authorities like Governor Quinn had hoped.
Illinois prisons have been understaffed for years, and the Governor is looking to solve the problem with a new prison guard program. His solution, however, runs counter to the recommendations of his attorney general and his own prison commission. He instead wants to increase the number of Illinois prison guards, even though the crime rate in Illinois is dropping. One of the problems is that overcrowding causes prison staff turnover, which often leads to a lower level of service overall. Another problem is that prison health care is suffering due to inadequate funding. Although overcrowded prisons are usually a hazard to anyone who visits them, they are especially dangerous to those who are in prison for violent crimes.
The problem that is playing out in the state of Illinois is a criminal justice crisis. The criminal justice system in Illinois is also in a crisis, with more people in prison than any other state in the country. Illinois has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the nation. If the criminal justice system is not fixed, the prisoner population will not be reduced as rapidly as anticipated.
The criminal justice system in Illinois needs to contain more offenders in order to reduce its overall crime rate. Unfortunately, the General Assembly failed to pass any additional funding for corrections in January. This means that although the state is still committed to reducing its prison population, crime rates are expected to increase. Illinois is one of only a few states that have shut down their court systems until the legislature passes a comprehensive juvenile justice reform bill. If those bills are passed, Illinois will once again become a magnet for criminals.
A lack of effective correctional facilities contributes to the high number of recidivism rates among offenders. Illinois has many inadequate and unsecured correctional facilities, including overcrowded prison cells, low quality food in prison commissaries, and no training for correctional officers or prison wardens. Prisoners are being sent back to jail even after they have served time for a crime they did not commit. The number of offenders who return to prison within three years of their release is also increasing. Illinois has the most overcrowded prison system in the nation, and it also has the most wrongful prison sentences in the nation. Many people who are serving time for crimes they did not commit return to prison because they could not obtain a good lawyer to help get them out of jail.
One reason that the state of Illinois is facing a prison population growth problem is the court system’s ineffective handling of case loads. A study read by the Associated Press found that Cook County had the most backlogged court dockets in the state of Illinois. In Cook County alone, there are more than two hundred different cases that have been pending for more than a year. In the wake of these problems, the court appointed attorneys are overflowing, and the public defender’s office are now overflowing. This is having a devastating effect on the criminal justice system in Illinois.
The state of Illinois has contracted with the Temple University School of Medicine to study the effects of medical visitation laws on the mentally ill in Illinois prisons. This study aims to determine if the introduction of medical visitation policies is having an adverse affect on prisoner health. The study also intends to determine if there are any links between these laws and an increase in prisoner suicide attempts. The findings are expected to be released soon.
Illinois prison facilities have changed over the past decade. Most of the prison facilities are now bi-level instead of single level. However, overcrowding is still a major problem, with upwards of thirty-six percent of Illinois prisoners housed in punitive supermax prisons. Illinois state officials claim that the state is understaffed, which is leading to a lack of activities and programs within the prison system. The Department of Corrections is required by law to provide the prison inmates with a high quality of healthcare. The report is expected to reveal recommendations to resolve these problems.