The East Moline Correctional Center is receiving 12 new correctional officers from the state's cadet class, according to an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman.|
Stacy Solano said those officers reported to work on Monday and bring the prison's total staff to 247 employees. Ms. Solano said there are about 1,400 inmates at the prison.
"This recent class of 135 officers will fill vacant positions in facilities across the state and assist in reducing overtime costs," Ms. Solano said. "The hiring of these new officers coincides with the department's top priority of operating safe and secure facilities."
Prison overcrowding has been a point of contention throughout Illinois facilities.
Gregg Johnson, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4, which represents prison workers, said the new hires are a start.
"We definitely need a hell of a lot more," Mr. Johnson said. "It's something. This takes us up to a total count of about 165 (correctional officers), which I think is about 34 short of where we should be.
"It's at least 10 short of where they (IDOC) think we should be."
The correctional center took in 116 new inmates from the maximum security Statesville Correctional Center in August. AFSCME opposes Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to close Tamms "supermax" prison in southern Illinois, a women's prison at Dwight and five other corrections facilities.
Mr. Johnson said closing the prisons would put further pressure on EMCC.
He said a judge in Alexander County is expected to decide Dec. 5 whether it will lift a temporary restraining order filed by AFSCME against the proposed prison closings earlier this year.
While Gov. Quinn estimates the closings could save the state millions of dollars, AFSCME has argued closing them and transferring inmates to already overcrowded prisons poses grave risk to prison worker's safety.
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