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Article updated: 11/16/2012 4:53 PM

Media tour offered at downstate prison

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By Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Members of Illinois media organizations have been invited to tour the Vienna Correctional Center in southern Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Corrections sent the invitation Friday. It comes as Gov. Pat Quinn appeared to be backing away from his position that media visits to Illinois prisons are a security risk. The Vienna tour is Nov. 30. Prison officials have said the tours will consider the safety and security of staff, inmates and visitors.

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The Associated Press and other news media outlets have been denied tour requests as Quinn tries to close two prisons to save money despite historic overcrowding of the state's prisons.

Despite making assertions about security, the department recently allowed a group of criminal justice students from Heartland Community College in Normal to tour the prison in Pontiac.

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