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Illinois Prison Staffing Concerns

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Illinois prison guards say Governor Pat Quinn's move to close correctional centers will lead to more violence.

They said, during a rally at the State Capitol in Springfield this week, that assaults are already on the rise due to overcrowding.

Twelve prison guards gave graphic and disturbing reports of violence at their institutions.

Jake Dalton is a sergeant at the Pontiac prison.  He says his facility is drastically understaffed.

"The Governor has lit a fuse on a powder keg," says Dalton, "and he is not going to be around for the explosion.  We are."

The prison guards say Quinn's plan to close prisons in Tamms and Dwight, as well as two juvenile facilities, will make an already-overcrowded system even more dangerous.

The union for Corrections Department employees says assaults on staff jumped by 46% between 2007 and 2011. The administration counters that such attacks decreased last year.

Quinn was asked about prison safety earlier this week.

"Well, we have to always be very prepared for anything, any eventuality," said Quinn.  "Our director of corrections does that every day. I have confidence in his ability to maintain order."

Quinn says all areas of state government ... including prisons ... need to find ways to save money.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio