Associated Press has learned that the overtime costs for employees who
guard Illinois' prisons increased 34 percent in the 2013 fiscal year,
which ended in June.
The $62 million in overtime pay state
Department of Corrections employees made last year is the highest amount
paid out over the previous seven years, according to the AP's analysis. The
jump in overtime pay is mainly credited to Gov. Pat Quinn's cost-saving
move to shut down some correctional facilities in addition to the state's
overcrowded prison system.
also noted that overtime costs spiked last fiscal year due to an
unsuccessful lawsuit filed by AFSCME looking to halt the closing of facilities such as the Dwight Correctional Center and the Tamms
supermax prison in southern Illinois.
Due to the lawsuit, the
Department of Corrections was not able to have employees impacted by the
closings, who had priority over newly-hired workers, take over
vacant positions, said corrections spokesman Tom Shaer.
pushed back on that notion, arguing that a number of new correctional
workers were hired over the course of the union's challenge to the
closings. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall also told the AP that the
union proposed various ways to "give the department added flexibility to
reduce the dangers posed and costs incurred by lack of staff in its
Prison officials say overtime pay has since
decreased by 22 percent from July through September of this year compared to the previous summer. Shaer said overtime pay could continue to be chipped away by
some $17 million this year, as the prisons currently employ a total of 9,792
workers, which is more than the 9,711 employees on staff prior to the shuttering of Dwight and
Additionally, the AP found the state's correctional system, meant to house less than 32,100 people, had 48,700 inmates as of Friday.
Pending state legislation sponsored by State Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Chicago), being pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and
others, for a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes would
likely increase the number of inmates in the system by thousands.