Illinois treasurer disagrees with Quinn's prison closing plan

October 7, 2011

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Friday he disagrees with Governor Pat Quinn's handling of potential state prison closings. This week, an arbitrator ordered Quinn to cancel his proposal to lay off state employees and close several facilities.

But Rutherford, a republican, said the democratic Governor needs a long-term plan for shutting prisons and a mental health facility.

"I think that a press conference on a Monday at 10:30 saying that you're going to close seven state facilities, without having a plan in place, causes a great deal of concern for the local communities where those facilities are based," said Rutherford, "a great deal of concern for the employees working for those facilities, and a great deal of concern for the residents of those facilities that are being serviced, whether they're an incarcerated person in the prison, or those with developmental disabilities."

Rutherford said he thinks some prisons could be adapted into other state-run facilities, like drug rehab centers or nursing homes, because the property is already an asset the state owns, with trained employees.

"I believe that Illinois should put together a strategic, long-range plan on how to deal with these types of institutions. If we have an institution that is archaic, does not fulfill the mission it was tasked with from the beginning, then let's plan towards it."

Quinn said this week he's willing to consider re-allocating money to avoid a prison closing. However, he's resistant to borrowing cash to do so.