Illinois Prison Overcrowding: State Disputes AP Report On Inmate Population

Prisons Are Overcrowded, But By How Much? State, AP Face Off

A recently-released report from the Associated Press analyzed state records to figure out just how many inmates are currently locked up in Illinois' desperately overcrowded prisons.

The AP's analysis totaled the prison population over the weekend at 49,154 inmates: significantly over the 33,700 people the state's prisons were designed to hold, and 19 more than the Illinois Department of Corrections' (IDOC) previous record, which was set on Oct. 6, 2011, according to the AP.

Hours later, the AP ran a follow-up story chronicling a dispute from IDOC after their initial findings were published

Agency spokesperson Stacey Solano told the Associated Press that the record had not been broken, asserting that there are 49,044 inmates currently behind bars.

The AP may have been off by 110 inmates, but even by IDOC's count, Illinois is still 15,344 over the amount of people it can comfortably and safely detain in prisons--a number that could swell as further cuts loom overhead.

A year ago, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed closing five state facilities in the wake of massive budget shortfalls: prison populations were no more on the decline then than they are now, but the state proposed housing 1,500 minimum-security inmates in the gymnasiums of other facilities.

In April of this year, state Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) proposed reinstating an early release program for good behavior to contend with the massive overcrowding.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reflected on the plight of prison overcrowding in his home state, and on a national level.

"Something’s wrong here," Durbin said, according to CBS St. Louis. "We are just filling up the prisons, 38 percent over capacity now in the federal prison system, and we’ve got to ask ourselves, is this making out country safer?"

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