May 24, 2024

AFSCME slams Stateville-Logan plans at hearing

Read AFSCME's full report underlining the problems with IDOC's plans at the link here.

At a Springfield hearing on May 10, AFSCME laid bare how detrimental the Illinois Department of Corrections’ proposed plans to close Stateville and Logan correctional centers would be for staff, individuals in custody and the economies of the towns that are homes to the prisons.  

IDOC has said it is planning to build new facilities to replace both Stateville and Logan, but those plans come with two poison pills: Stateville would be shut down almost immediately and remain closed throughout the three to five years before a new facility is built; Logan would remain open now, but the new facility would likely be built in northern Illinois, effectively eliminating the jobs of the hundreds of employees who currently work at the central Illinois facility.

Council 31 Deputy Director Mike Newman testified before the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), a bipartisan commission responsible for providing an advisory recommendation to state agencies on proposed facility closures. Also attending the hearings were members of AFSCME Locals 1866 and 2073, which represent employees at Stateville and Logan, respectively.

AFSCME’s testimony and a subsequent report authored by the union exposed serious flaws in the department’s plans and urged the commission to reject them.

“While AFSCME supports rebuilding Stateville and supports building a new facility on or near Logan’s current location, our union believes that DOC’s proposed path would needlessly and drastically disrupt the lives of the department’s employees, the lives of individuals who are currently incarcerated, their families and the economic well-being of several communities,” Newman said at the hearing.

Questions remain on Stateville plans

IDOC has been unable to answer why it is pressing forward on plans to close Stateville. A report from outside consulting firm CGL found that Stateville has “significant space within its perimeter that could be demolished to provide additional options.”

The department has suggested that all Stateville employees would have the opportunity to transfer to other facilities. But its numbers are flawed: At Joliet Treatment Center, just 10 miles away, there are only 44 vacant positions. None of the nearby facilities have the capacity to absorb the nearly 500 staff whose jobs are threatened at Stateville.

Of critical concern is the department’s inability to grasp the safety risks its plans create for both staff and individuals in custody. Every available indicator shows that our state’s prisons are becoming more dangerous.

“Relocating hundreds of offenders from Stateville to correctional facilities throughout the state will only make this problem worse as many of these facilities are already experiencing violent incidents at a time when they are seriously understaffed,” Newman said.

Another key concern is the medical needs of Stateville’s population. A high volume of care occurs at the facility’s own medical center and its access to outside care in the Chicago area. The department has glossed over whether individuals now receiving medical care at Stateville will be able to receive that same level of care once transferred.

The department’s plans for Stateville would also have a disparate impact on IDOC employees who are women and people of color. Sixty-eight percent of Black IDOC employees work in Region 1, where Stateville is located; the region accounts for 41% of the department’s female employees.

Moving Logan disrupts staff, individuals in custody

In suggesting a new location for Logan CC, the department omitted critically important information in its filings to the commission, entirely glossing over the hardships it would create for current staff.

IDOC identifies two prisons close to Logan—Lincoln and Decatur—that could serve as institutions to which current staff could move. But there are currently 454 staff at Logan and, at those two facilities combined, only a total of 54 budgeted vacancies.

If the facility is closed down and eventually moved to another area of the state, many staff at Logan will only have the option of taking positions that would force them to relocate, causing significant disruption to their lives and families.

Moving Logan to the grounds at Stateville would further disrupt the lives of those individuals in custody and their families. Sixty percent of those incarcerated at Logan have a sentencing county outside the greater Chicagoland area. The only other women’s prison, Decatur, is a minimum-security, dormitory-style facility which could not safely house Logan’s medium- and maximum-security population.

Logan has a robust offering of academic, career training and other programming available. Some 800 women at Logan are diagnosed as seriously mentally ill, and Logan has a well-developed infrastructure of mental health treatment programming with well-trained and experienced staff that have worked with this population for many years. This programming would be nearly impossible to replicate if the facility is moved.

“The department is not just entirely capable of building modern, safe and state-of-the-art facilities without the needless and drastic disruptions that these closures would cause, it is entirely incapable of pursuing its own plan of action without putting lives and livelihoods at risk,” Newman said.

COGFA is required to schedule public hearings where corrections employees, their families, and other concerned members of the community can express their views on the DOC plans. AFSCME members in the Logan and Stateville areas should plan on attending when dates and locations have been set.

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