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Illinois Needs Comprehensive Plan For Facilities: Rutherford

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A Republican candidate for governor is once again calling for Illinois to change the way it manages major facilities, like prisons and developmental centers. That includes how the state closes such facilities.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says past attempts to close prisons and other big state institutions have been haphazard. He says this has been going on for years, back at least to the administrations of former governors Ryan and Blagojevich. But it's still happening, as with this year's closure of the women's prison in Dwight.

"Debate whether it should close or not. But now what do you do?" Rutherford asks. "Are you going to sell it? Are you going to develop it? Nobody knows. That's the problem."

The same goes for the so-called supermax prison in Tamms, which Gov. Pat Quinn closed on account of its relatively small but expensive population. It, too, is sitting empty, with an uncertain future.

Rutherford has pitched this idea before, most recently last year.

He says the state ought to develop a long-term plan for all its facilities, whether it'll keep them running as they are, re-purpose them, or close them altogether.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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