Department of Corrections

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Prisoner Review Board
Brian Mackey / WUIS

One of the longest-serving inmates in an Illinois prison was granted parole Thursday. Joseph Bigsby was a teenager in 1973 when he shot and killed a Chicago police officer.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Illinois lawmakers were not able to reach an agreement on the state’s budget in the spring session. However, both chambers managed to approve a number of bills that could make it easier for those with criminal records to secure jobs or at least get a foot in the door.

flickr/meeshpants

ILLINOIS ISSUES - Idatyna Zarecky was sexually abused as a child, which she believes led to her developing mental health problems. Her mother didn’t have the time or resources to have her treated and would give her medication to calm her nerves.

flickr/meeshpants

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says a new report shows why the prison system needs to improve its use of solitary confinement.

Durbin, the Assistant Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, says he's visited prisons that rely heavily on solitary confinement, including the now-closed Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois.

He says sometimes segregating prisoners is warranted. But he worries about an over-reliance because he says it can cause psychological damage for prisoners.

This week's topics include how the debate over the state's minimum wage may affect the Republican candidates for Governor, and calls for a change of leadership at the state's Department of Corrections.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

When a September meeting of one of Illinois’ many obscure government oversight commissions turned into a discussion about the proper seasoning blend for making hot dogs, it served as yet another reminder that there are problems with the state’s revamped rules for purchasing goods and services.

flickr/meeshpants

More and more prisoners in Illinois are being served brunch, eating two meals a day instead of three. Prison officials say it's actually better for many inmates.

Feeding prisoners is a lot of work — not only cooking and cleaning up, but moving inmates from cells or dorms over to the mess hall.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says at some prisons, breakfast is served at 4 a.m., which means moving inmates in the dark.

Illinois' prison systems have misplaced $200,000 of computer equipment.  As Amanda Vinicky reports, the state's auditor general says that poses security risks. 

105 laptops are missing from the Illinois Department of Corrections - plus an additional 51 desktops.

According to a new audit,there's a risk confidential information stored on the computers could be exposed.

But D.O.C. spokesman Tom Shaer says that's not likely.

"We don't believe that these computers are laying around somewhere compromising security."

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois should provide mental health care and addiction treatment to those who truly need it instead of incarcerating thousands of the addicted and the mentally ill, making taxpayers shell out for care in the much costlier settings of prison and jails. 

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Within 90 days of being on the job, Illinois Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle announced sweeping changes in the way offenders are either sentenced to prison or diverted to community-based programs.

Roger Walker’s appointment as director of the Illinois Department of Corrections means a significant shift in leadership style for an agency that may be in need of a mediator at the top. 

Personable and practical, Walker is more comfortable looking for solutions than problems. He says he may not be an employee’s best friend, but he wants his workers to know he listens. And he arrives at this post with no predetermined agenda. 

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Crisis can cloud judgment. Or it can foster creative thinking. 

And Illinois may have reached just this critical juncture in its correctional policies overall, and in its procedures for imposing the death sentence in particular.