Official: Illinois may need new prison

Mar 17, 2014

The director of the Illinois Department of Corrections says the state may need a new prison soon.

    DOC Director Salvador Godinez appeared before the Illinois Senate’s Executive Appointments committee.

  His position is up for renewal and the committee voted 7 to 2 to recommend approval.

  But not before Godinez faced some tough questions from two Republican senators, including Tim Bivins:

  BIVINS: Do you see the need for a new prison?

GODINEZ: Today, no.

BIVINS: OK how about tomorrow?

GODINEZ: Tomorrow, possibly. Because one thing I have zero control over is what laws are put into effect that put people into prison.

  Godinez told senators the state has more than 48 thousand prisoners in a system originally built for 32 thousand.

  A DOC spokesman says that 32 thousand figure is based on having one prisoner per cell, but he says double-bunking inmates is an accepted practice and that brings the system’s capacity closer to 50 thousand.

  The questions on capacity come just two years after Illinois sold one prison to the federal government and closed two others.