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updated: 7/20/2012 11:55 AM

St. Charles youth center worker fears Joliet closure

Union leader says closing Joliet youth center would have bad consequences

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  • Janet Bradley, union president at Illinois Youth Center St. Charles, talks to reporters about safety concerns at the Illinois Capitol Thursday.

       Janet Bradley, union president at Illinois Youth Center St. Charles, talks to reporters about safety concerns at the Illinois Capitol Thursday.
    Mike Riopell | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- A worker and union leader at Illinois Youth Center St. Charles said Thursday that Gov. Pat Quinn's plans to close a similar facility in Joliet could reduce safety at the suburban juvenile prison.

The Joliet youth center -- set for closure later this year -- houses more violent offenders than the St. Charles facility, sometimes young people waiting to be tried as adults. And Janet Bradley says moving them to St. Charles would cause safety problems.

"We're not equipped to deal with that type of youth," she said.

Bradley , a supply supervisor and union president at the St. Charles facility, said some youths already have been moved in anticipation of the closure.

"Our less violent offenders are mixing with these violent individuals," she said.

Bradley and other prison workers from around the state spoke with reporters Thursday at the Illinois Capitol as part of an event arranged by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

The union opposes Quinn's planned prison closures, which don't hit the suburbs directly. Still, union leaders argued, closures will cause crowding and safety problems elsewhere once youth and inmates are transferred.

"What's not as obvious is the impact on the system throughout the state," AFSCME Director Henry Bayer said.

Quinn has proposed cutting prisons as a way to save the struggling state money.

"Safety is our number one priority," Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft said. "The facts show that the number of inmate-on-inmate assaults remain level with last year while the number of inmate-on-staff assaults are down. To indicate there is a correlation between prison closures and the number of assaults is simply false."

Lawmakers approved a state budget earlier this year that included money to keep prisons open, but Quinn decided to move forward anyway.

Quinn had targeted Fox Valley Adult Transition Center in Aurora for closure, but changed his mind and now plans to keep it open.

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