CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CN) – The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will appeal a judge’s ruling that allows the Illinois Department of Corrections to move 100 prisoners next week. AFSCME sued to block the plan to close the Pontiac Correctional Center, and accused the department of not screening inmates for mental problems, as is common practice when moving them. AFSCME represents Pontiac’s 570 employees.
Livingston County Circuit Judge Stephen Pacey wrote that he “reluctantly finds” the court bound by a 2002 decision in which the AFSCME unsuccessfully tried to block the closing of a juvenile facility.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said an appeal could come as soon as next week. “We believe that our reading of the law is correct,” Lindall told The Associated Press. “We feel the judge today essentially invited an appeal, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
The Department of Corrections plans to move 50 prisoners by today (Friday) to East Moline and another 50 next week to Taylorville, both minimum-security facilities. The prisoners make up about 6 percent of Pontiac’s 1,646 inmates. Gov. Rod Blagojevich said the move would save the state $2 million a year as it tries to fix a budget deficit of $2 billion.