Prison watchdog says governor's reason for keeping reporters out of prisons is worrisome

August 13, 2012

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A prison watchdog group says Gov. Pat Quinn's reason for keeping reporters out of the state's prisons is very concerning.

Speaking to reporters in Springfield last week, Quinn defended his decision to keep journalists from seeing inside the prisons.

“Yeah, well I don't believe in that,” said Quinn. “I think that it's important that when it comes to the security of our prisons I go with the director that I have at the Department of Corrections.  Security comes first and it isn't a country club.”

John Maki, the executive director of the John Howard Association, says security shouldn’t be an issue.

“If the Department of Corrections can't guarantee the safety of a reporter coming in to just ask some very legitimate questions to talk to inmates, to talk to staff, that raises some real concerns about the safety of the facilities.  If they're actually that insecure, that's a problem.  That in and of itself is a problem,” said Maki.

Volunteers with the John Howard Association visit prisons every month. They issued reports detailed appalling conditions at the Vandalia and Vienna prisons a year ago, and those conditions have been largely unchanged in that time.