Rauner calls for closed-circuit cameras to replace watchtower guards in effort to cut overtime costs
A spokeswoman for the governor said the measure would cut overtime costs and help reduce the state’s corrections budget.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is proposing that watchtower guards be replaced with closed-circuit cameras at 23 of Illinois’ state prisons. The cameras are intended to reduce overtime costs. A Rauner spokeswoman said reducing overtime costs for correctional officers and “more efficient management strategies” should save the state $4 million annually. This should reduce the $1.3 billion Illinois spends on prisons each year.
The administration said no guards will be laid off as part of the camera program.
Under Rauner’s proposal, the cameras would be installed in Illinois’ minimum- and moderate-security prisons. However, the measure would not be implemented at Illinois’ four maximum-security facilities.
Rauner’s plan comes after years of audits showing massive overtime costs for Illinois corrections staff. In 2013 corrections employees’ overtime cost the state $50.6 million, and in 2014 it cost $49.1 million, according to The Quad-City Times. By January 2016, Rauner had hired 450 new employees and brought on 1,000 new trainees, and the Illinois Department of Corrections had trimmed $10 million in overtime costs.
Reducing overtime expenses is just one part of Rauner’s plan to bring down overall incarceration costs in Illinois. Rauner has called for reducing Illinois’ prison population 25 percent by 2025. Other plans to lower costs have proven successful, such as the Adult Redeploy Program, which has saved the state $76 million from 2011 to 2015.