Prison watchdog: Quinn cutting in wrong places – WJBC – The Voice of Central Illinois

The governor wants to cut millions from prison drug treatment programs and job placement services, which a prison watchdog group says is asking for trouble.

The proposed $12 million cut is part of the governor’s budget plan that would close eight facilities, including super-max prisons and halfway houses. John Maki, executive director of prison watchdog group John Howard Association said policy makers aren’t focusing on the big picture.

“As the General Assembly and the Governor work out the details on this budget, they need to be thinking about the long term,” he said. “Ultimately again, we can make short term decisions that might save us money right now, but we’ll pay for at a much greater cost down the road.”

Maki said the loss of rehabilitation programs will mean petty drug offenders will stay in prison longer than necessary. He argued it costs far more to incarcerate a person than rehabilitate him.

Maki said recidivism is greatly reduced when drug users receive help behind prison walls.

Quinn has proposed closing the Tamms Super Max facility in southern Illinois and the Dwight Correctional Center in Central Illinois.

via Prison watchdog: Quinn cutting in wrong places – WJBC – The Voice of Central Illinois.

Austerity Measures and Unions | Keeping Dwight Prison open is vital in Morris, Illinois

By Jason Helland

Keeping Dwight Correctional Center open is not only vital to the local economy, but it is vital to public safety. Each day, when a criminal is arrested, a prosecutor makes a decision whether to charge them with a crime or not charge them. If the prosecutor decides to charge the criminal, the prosecutor must make a decision in what crimes to charge them with, and this decision includes whether to charge the criminal with a misdemeanor or a felony.

Notably, a criminal is not charged with a felony every time a felony is committed. A prosecutor will often look at all the surrounding circumstances to determine whether a felony should be charged. Is the case strong? Did the offender make restitution? Did the police do a thorough investigation? Does the offender have a lengthy criminal history? Was great bodily harm inflicted on the victim? Was the victim handicapped or over the age of 60? Needless to say, many factors are looked at before a felony is even charged.

Felons are the most dangerous criminals in our society. Our state legislature has told us so when they have made only certain offenses felonies and have provided for the possibility of incarceration in a state facility for at least one year when a felony is committed.

In order to be sentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections, one must (1) be found guilty by either a judge or a jury or (2) enter a plea agreement. Once the criminal has either been found guilty or plead guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held at which the prosecutor will present aggravating factors to the judge to show why they feel that the criminal should be sentenced to prison, while the defense attorney will present mitigating factors of why the criminal should be sentenced to probation, conditional discharge, or other sentencing alternatives that do not involve incarceration. The point is simple. Only the offenders that are the worst of the worst are sentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Prison is for the worst of the worst. Prison is for those offenders who have a track record that shows they will not stop committing crimes unless they are incarcerated. Prison is for those offenders that will continue to be a danger to themselves or others unless incarcerated. Prison is for offenders who refuse to successfully complete substance abuse treatment although they have a major drug or alcohol problem. Probation is not given to them because they have continually shown over time that they won’t complete what the judge or the probation officer has asked of them or that they must go to prison.

I have no doubt that if Dwight is closed, public safety will be adversely affected.

Dangerous criminals will be released early and set free back into our community. Parole officers’ case loads will increase and the criminals will be under minimal supervision committing new offenses.

It is vital that the Dwight Correctional Center remain open. Not only to save jobs and the local economy, but also to protect the public.

via | Keeping Dwight Prison open is vital in Morris, Illinois.

A great exhibit of leading by example. – Pontiac, IL – Pontiac Daily Leader

By Cynthia Grau

As a reporter, I have to be very non-biased. I have to write from a standpoint that I have absolutely no opinion at all, which honestly, isn’t very hard. I typically write stories that include more direct quotes than anything else so that there’s less chance to report anything untrue and if it is untrue, it can’t be associated with a mistake I made because I have a person recorded on digital audio saying whatever quote I used.

Something I will say, with showing no bias to either pole, is that all the people coming together to keep the Dwight Correctional Center open is very inspiring.

I have been a part of the meeting with leaders when the announcement first happened. I was also allowed to listen in and ask questions during a conference call with area leaders and a COGFA member. Last night, I was able to attend the rally held at Dwight Township High School.

I stood on one end of the gym, taking in all the people that packed the place. There were people there of all ages, Livingston County Sheriff’s Police, Dwight firemen, Livingston County Board members, Dwight Village trustees, Dwight Prison guards – people from pretty much all walks of life. There were young children holding signs. While speakers were addressing the crowd, everyone was very attentive and would break out into applause and cheers if something the speaker said sparked that kind of reaction.

I can sit back and say, “So the prison may be closed. I’ll still have a job,” but I do care more than that. This affects so much more than a group of people being out of a job. As one of the speakers said last night, “Write your legislators; put a face and a personal story behind each person this will affect.”

Whether a person gets along with their coworkers or goes to work everyday with a smile plastered to their face, or even if they dread going but it’s a job they’ve had for so many years, everyone has the same bond in the situation. That thing in common is bringing them together, changing it from a couple hundred individuals to one body – a body that is working for the same purpose: To keep the prison open.

Something that crossed my mind last night after taking this all in, with the electricity from the excitement off the rally coursing through my brain, was what could we as a whole do with our world if we all just stuck together? What could we do if we put differences aside and bonded together to make things happen? One clear voice is a lot stronger than a couple thousand conversations running together. Think about it: It would be like sitting in a crowded restaurant and keeping track of every conversation in great detail. Wouldn’t it be easier if it was just one-on-one in that restaurant? I know it would be for me.

I know this isn’t a new concept and people have been preaching this for years, but just imagine what we as a county, state, nation and world could do if everyone stuck together for a general purpose? I know that is an absolute impossibility, but in this “all about me and me only” day in age, and since the world has been like this for awhile, I believe that we’re starting to see the side effects of that mindset.

With the different political affiliations, religions and denominations, and personal upbringings people had, this whole “binding the world together” would be impossible, but the scene in Dwight last night proved that, even though DCC and Dwight and Livingston County may just be a small blip on the worldwide map, anything is possible.

My wish for today is that everyone takes note of that great group of people. Use them as an example that if you believe in something, like they believe in keeping the prison open, anything is worth the fight.

I wish the best of luck to everyone with their fight. I hope it works out for the best.

via A great exhibit of leading by example. – Pontiac, IL – Pontiac Daily Leader.

Fight against closing of Dwight prison

I am appalled by the governor’s announcement that he now wants to close the Dwight Correctional Center. Because of its proximity to Chicago, the Dwight Correctional Center is one facility that should never be closed.

The governor’s actions seem to be yet another political attack on the good people of Livingston County whose values are largely conservative and whose politicians are, for the most part, Republicans. This is shameful. Let’s look at how we got to this point.

For years, the legislators and governor have mismanaged our state’s checkbook. So, when the politicians in Springfield mismanage our money, it is quite natural to make the hard-working state employees pay for it, to take the hit, so to speak.

This is how it works in the Chicago-style politics we have in Illinois. Go after the innocent. Blame the unions. Blame everyone else, but do not blame the perpetrators. What an interesting concept.

Going through one attempt to close the Pontiac Correctional Center, I personally know of the anxiety that the Dwight Correctional Center employees and their families are going through. The questions at the dinner table will be numerous and met with sadness. There are no answers. This will be a tough time for many people.

I hope that the area politicians fight the closing of Dwight Correctional Center. The key word is “fight.” Fight for the constituents and employees of Dwight Correctional Center. Carefully crafted “official statements” will not cut it. Rally together!

Ted Conkling, Kempton

via Fight against closing of Dwight prison.

What Is To Be Done About The Unions?

This is part two of an interview. If I find part one I’ll update this post.


Richard Trumka: America’s Crumbling Bridges

In America, 68,842 bridges are deficient—and 282,672,680 vehicles cross those bridges every day. Meanwhile, 9.1 percent of Americans are jobless.

With so many people out of work and so many bridges and other pieces of critical infrastructure in need of work, there’s a simple solution: Congress must pass legislation putting jobless Americans to work fixing critical infrastructure—bridges, schools, roads, ports and more.

Tell your members of Congress: America is ready to get to work on our bridges, transit, rail, airports, highways, ports, schools and the rest of our failing infrastructure.

These projects don’t just create good jobs for the people who do the original work—though that’s a big part of why they are important right now. They also make our economy perform better in the long term by increasing productivity. And they make America a better, safer place to live.

Immediate work on America’s crumbling infrastructure is a start. But we also need to pass a fully funded surface transportation reauthorization and start now on even bigger projects—world-class communications and energy systems, high-speed rail and other infrastructure we need to be competitive in the 21st century.

Tell Congress: We need to fix our broken infrastructure and get started on even bigger projects, too—the world-class communications and energy systems, high-speed rail and other infrastructure we need to be competitive in the 21st century.

I haven’t been to China, though I hope to go soon. But I am told that when you fly to Shanghai, you land in a brand-new airport, you have high-speed broadband access from the moment you arrive and you can get on a high-speed train in the arrival terminal that will take you directly to downtown Shanghai at speeds faster than 100 miles per hour.

This just isn’t available in any U.S. city. But we can change that. We can meet these standards—and beat them. But only if our leaders rise to the challenge.

Thank you for all the work you do.

In Solidarity,

President, AFL-CIO

P.S. In tough times, America has come together and put America back to work by building and rebuilding our infrastructure. But so far, the Republicans won’t do it. That’s why we’re taking the pressure to every individual member of Congress today—highlighting just how much work there is to be done and how many jobless Americans are ready to get to work.

Tell your members of Congress: America is ready to get to work. Let’s get started on our bridges, transit, rail, airports, highways, ports, schools and the rest of our failing infrastructure.

To find out how many bridges need work in your state and your state’s unemployment rate, click here.

How could anyone be against collective bargaining? | Mansfield News Journal |

The law defines collective bargaining as: “To bargain collectively” means to perform the mutual obligation of the public employer, by its representatives, and the representatives of its employees to negotiate in good faith at reasonable times and places with respect to wages, hours, terms and other conditions of employment and the continuation, modification or deletion of an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement, with the intention of reaching an agreement, or to resolve questions arising under the agreement. The obligation to bargain collectively does not mean that either party is compelled to agree to a proposal, nor does it require the making of a concession.

Collective bargaining is a mutually respectable negotiation method that protects both the employers and the employees, yet favors neither party. How could any reasonable person be against it?

H.R. 2587 Guts the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

Here is a summary of the bill:

Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act – Amends the National Labor Relations Act to deny the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) any power to: (1) order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment; (2) rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or employer who shall be engaged in production or other business operations; or (3) require any employer to make an initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility, or location.

Applies the amendment made by this Act to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the NLRB has not been made by the date of enactment.

This bill passed the House and is now is going to the Senate.

From reading the summary it seems to me that corporate interests really don’t want to be bothered by any rules or laws so they want to strip the policing authority, in this case the NLRB, of the power to enforce the laws. Isn’t this like saying a cop has no right to pull you over and give you a speeding ticket if you’re going 100 MPH?

And the part about out-sourcing really is a job-killer! Millions of people out of work and the House wants to make it easier to ship our remaining jobs overseas.

AFSCME | AFSCME’s McEntee to Congressional Republicans: Get Out of Jail Free Card Doesn’t Create Jobs

“Instead of passing the President’s jobs plan and actually creating jobs, congressional Republicans are up to the same old politics and doing the bidding of Corporate CEOs,” stated AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “H.R. 2587 gives companies a get out jail free card and makes them less accountable for firing workers and shipping jobs overseas. At a time when our economy is stagnant, and millions of Americans are unemployed, we should encourage companies to hire workers, not debate legislation that will allow companies to ship jobs to other countries.”

H.R. 2587, if enacted will eliminate the only remedy provided to the National Labor Relations Board, the authority to return workers to their jobs when a company decides to fire employees or relocate a plant to punish workers or avoid their obligation to bargain with workers. Additionally, enactment of this legislation will allow companies to more easily outsource jobs, and strip the authority to return those jobs to the U.S. if a company began outsourcing in retaliation.

“It is shameful that Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and the rest of the congressional Republicans continue to do the work of CEOs, lobbyists and campaign contributors. The members of Congress should do what they were elected to do, fight for an economic recovery that creates jobs and works for all Americans.”

via AFSCME | AFSCME’s McEntee to Congressional Republicans: Get Out of Jail Free Card Doesn’t Create Jobs.