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Dwight mayor blasts Quinn as prison closures begin

Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 9:43 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — DWIGHT — A southern Illinois judge’s decision to lift an injunction that had been stopping Gov. Pat Quinn from closing prisons in Dwight and elsewhere was not only bad news for those opposed to the closures, but also bad timing, said Dwight Mayor Bill Wilkey on Thursday.

“I don’t know how the governor and his aides sleep at night,” Wilkey said. “This (the closure effort) has been going since February and the employees and everyone else must feel like they are in limbo. And now to get more bad news right before Christmas is very disappointing. The kind of stuff this governor is doing, I wouldn’t do to my worst enemy.”

Alexander County Associate Circuit Judge Charles Cavaness on Wednesday lifted the injunction in compliance with a Dec. 12 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, paving the way for the governor to move forward with the closures.

Wilkey said the fight isn’t over even though some Tamms prison inmates were transferred Thursday and others are scheduled for next week. The female inmates at Dwight Correctional Center are expected to be moved to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, but male inmates must be moved from there first.

“I’m not giving up the ship,” Wilkey said. “What I have been told is that Tamms will be moved first and Dwight is probably going to be further down the road. That gives us some time to do more work and to see if any other legislation can help us.”

But Wilkey has concerns that with the Quinn administration, his options are limited.

“People will eventually see through his administration,” he said. “He claims these moves are saving Illinois taxpayers $100 million, but that doesn’t add up. You still have to feed the inmates, provide medical attention and pay the guards and so he is just blowing smoke with these numbers he is throwing around.”

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