Governor Wants to Close 'Unnecessary' Prisons

Gov. Rod Blagojevich for months hasproposed closing prisons in Vandalia and Saint Charles to save money in a tight state budget.

Now the Democrat says the 133-year-old Pontiac prison should be replaced by the two-year-old prison in Thomson that hasn't opened for lack of funds.

Blagojevich said the state should, "close prisons we don't need."

The state has unused beds in other new prisons too. But Pontiac and two other maximum-security prisons are 70 percent over capacity. Charles Fasano of the prison watchdog John Howard Association said Thomson was meant to be an additional prison, not a replacement.

Republican Senator Steve Rauschenberger said replacing old prisons might make sense but should be done after study and deliberation.