New numbers from the Illinois Department of Corrections show the state’s prison population is falling, but the system is still overcrowded. The inmate population dropped by nearly 2,500 last year, and is down more than 4,200 since fiscal year 2014.
Governor Bruce Rauner resolved to reduce the prison population by 25-percent over the next decade.
John Howard Association Executive Director Jennifer Vollen-Katz says it’s a great sign to begin reversing the decades-long upward trend. But Vollen-Katz said the state is taking steps in the other direction as well, with bills such as the one Governor Rauner signed into law last week that strengthens punishments for first-time gun offenders. Vollen-Katz says even with the lower numbers, Illinois’ prison system is still over capacity by nearly 12,000.
Meanwhile, there have been some recent altercations in Illinois prisons. The latest was reported on Friday at the Shawnee Correctional Center. The disturbance happened less than a week after six officers were allegedly assaulted during a disturbance at the Pontiac Correctional Center. Off-duty guards conducted an informational picket in front of the Pontiac Prison on Friday to show their concern.