By Monique Garcia
6:43 PM PST, December 11, 2012
The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Pat Quinn can move forward with the closure of several prisons and juvenile justice facilities.
In its ruling, the court ordered an Alexander County judge to dissolve a preliminary injunction that stopped the Quinn administration from completing the closures, which were initially scheduled to go into effect by Oct. 31.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had sued to prevent the closures, arguing they would worsen prison overcrowding and put employee’s lives in danger. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said the union was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling.
Slated for closure is the state’s only super max prison in Tamms in far southern Illinois, along with the Dwight Correctional Center for women in central Illinois and juvenile justice centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. Three transitional centers for inmates, including one on Chicago’s West Side, also will be closed.
Lawmakers had set aside enough money in the budget to keep the facilities open, but Quinn vetoed the money out, arguing it would be better spent in the state agency that oversees child welfare.
Senate lawmakers moved to override that veto when they met in Springfield late last month, but the House chose not to follow suit. So the governor’s veto was upheld.
A spokeswoman for Quinn said the ruling was "encouraging news for Illinois taxpayers who will no longer be on the hook for spending millions of dollars we don't have on half-empty, unnecessary and very expensive facilities." Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said once fully implemented, the closures will save taxpayers an estimated $100 million a year.
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