Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Budget: Close Some Illinois Prisons, Invest More Money in Illinois Community Care

(Chicago, IL) – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn laid out plans for Illinois’ FY’13 budget on Wednesday, calling for cost-cutting measures that decrease reliance on expensive Illinois prisons and other Illinois institutions while increasing the use of transitional services and community-based care.

The details of the Illinois budget will be discussed and debated in the Illinois General Assembly throughout the spring legislative session.  On principle, TASC and its Center for Health and Justice support the Governor’s commitment to provide community-based, individualized care to achieve budget savings for Illinois.

According to the Governor Quinn’s proposed Illinois budget, a number of state institutions will close, including two adult prisons, two juvenile justice centers, and six adult transition centers. “From both a fiscal standpoint and a social responsibility standpoint, it makes sense to close some Illinois prisons,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez. “It is critical to do so in a way that doesn’t exacerbate crowding in other Illinois prisons, and in a way that ensures responsible reentry when people are released.”

Illinois’ prison population stands at record-high of nearly 49,000, of whom approximately 70 percent are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. More than half meet the clinical criteria for alcohol or drug dependence.
 
“Especially when we’re talking about nonviolent offenders with substance use or mental health problems, it benefits both the systems and individuals to redirect people to appropriate interventions,” said Rodriguez.  “As an agency concerned with both public safety and public health, we support strategies that combine accountability with clinical interventions.”
 
TASC provides transition and clinical reentry services for individuals released from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). As part of IDOC’s designated team of community-based providers, TASC’s services are core to the success of IDOC’s Sheridan and Southwest Illinois reentry programs. A year after release, Sheridan releases had a 44% lower risk of returning to prison than those who did not receive treatment and TASC.
 
“The bottom line is that we’re talking about reducing costs while maintaining public safety,” said Rodriguez.  “Any plans to reduce Illinois prison populations must be accompanied by carefully planned transition services and evidence-based services in the community.”
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