Quinn defends decision to keep reporters out of prisons

August 10, 2012

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is addressing some issues raised in WBEZ's reporting on state prisons this week.

When he spoke to reporters in Springfield on Thursday, Quinn said he wants to look into any specifics that deal with prison conditions.  He said, “I want to always pay attention to that and we'll take a look at that and we'll take a look at that and investigate everything.”

But the deteriorating conditions we referred to in our stories are not new.  We relied heavily on reports from a prison watchdog group, the John Howard Association. Those reports were published a year ago and the issues raised have gone largely unaddressed since then.

Quinn was pushed on conditions by a reporter. Here’s the exchange they had.

REPORTER BRIAN MACKEY: WBEZ has been asking to get a look at those why can't they get in to see for themselves.

QUINN: Yeah, well I don't believe in that. 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 with the prison watchdog group says if security is a concern then that raises serious questions about the safety of the inmates who live there and the prison employees who work there.