Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Quinn Criticized for Halfway House Closures



    Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivers the State of the Budget Address to a join session of the General Assembly in the House chambers Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

    Illinois prison experts who want to see the inmate population decrease are questioning Gov. Pat Quinn's cost-saving plan to close six adult transition centers.

    Prison officials estimate about 1,000 residents would be paroled and monitored electronically.

    The work-release facilities house low-level criminals nearing release and help them prepare to re-enter the community.

    John Maki of the prison watchdog John Howard Association calls the decision to close the centers "short-sighted."

    Maki says the state should expand transitional settings to ease prison crowding.

    But Nancy LaVigne of the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., says halfway houses sometimes hinder an ex-convict's progress.

    LaVigne says the centers typically cater to minor criminals who have family support and would do well at home on parole. She says electronic monitoring for them makes sense.