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Governor Denounces Plan To Revive Hardin County Prison Work Camp

Prisoners outdoors viewed through fence

State lawmakers Tuesday voted to reopen a prison work camp in deep southern Illinois, but the governor's office says the attempt is politically-motivated.

There are no longer any inmates at the Hardin County work camp; they were moved out late last year, after Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration chose to close the facility.

Democrat Brandon Phelps represents the area, and asked his colleagues for a favor "to try to help me help one of the poorest counties in the state. To help Hardin County. This means everything to this little county. It's their biggest employer."

The camp employed about 70 workers. None were laid off -- they got jobs at other prisons -- but Phelps says it's an economic hit to Hardin.

But most Republicans declined Phelps's request.

Gov. Rauner's office says closing Hardin was necessary, given years of fiscal "mismanagement at the hands of Rep. Phelps" and his party.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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