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December 13, 2012 (American City)

Illinois May Close Prisons, Imprison Fewer People

Like a flagging business winding down its operations, Illinois last week took one more step toward shuttering four of its prisons.

The state joins a nationwide movement to cut incarceration costs through consolidating its prison population. As the Illinois prison population hovers around the highest it’s ever been, inmates from closing correctional centers will move into some of the most crowded facilities in the country.

If Illinois wants to avoid a humanitarian and constitutional crisis, it must cut its prison population — permanently.

After decades of prison building, the mass incarceration system is slowly being dismantled. According to a report, On the Chopping Block 2012: State Prison Closings, by The Sentencing Project, 53 prison facilities across 17 states were set to close during the years 2011 and 2012.

Nationally, prison closure has become a poster child for bipartisan supporters eager to peg incarceration as an expensive and ineffective response to antisocial behavior.

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Collateral Consequences