A minimum-security prison in southern Illinois has long been derided by a watchdog group as one the state’s most crowded lockups, and now reporters will be able to see it for themselves.
The Illinois Department of Corrections on Friday afternoon plans to open up the Vienna Correctional Center in Johnson County for a media tour.
The availability to reporters comes more than a year after the nonprofit John Howard Association issued a report about flooding, vermin, inoperable toilets, mold and more in the lockup.
The prison system says there are some 1,600 inmates at the prison, which the
John Howard Association contends was designed to house 685.
Robert Wildeboer has more from member station WBEZ:
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WBEZ spent much of the past year requesting a visit to Vienna, a minimum security prison where overcrowding has led to hundreds of prisoners being housed in large rooms crowded with bunks.
The building has broken windows that are simply boarded up in winter leaving inmates no view of the outside.
Quinn kept reporters out citing simply safety and security.
With pro bono attorneys from Jenner and Block WBEZ threatened to sue Quinn and the department of corrections.
The department then announced it would give tours to reporters on three designated media days and the first of those tours is this afternoon.
But reporters are not allowed to bring in microphones or cameras to document the conditions so the public still won’t see what’s happening first hand.
The department of corrections says reporters will be allowed notebooks and so-called “flex-pens” and that’s more than the general public is allowed to bring in.
Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.
-Illinois Public Radio/Associated Press