It took more than four days for the Illinois Department of Corrections to capture escaped prisoner Jared Carter. The hunt involved more than 100 department employees, as well as helicopters, airplanes, and state police personnel. But there’s one thing that was left out of the search due to Illinois state budget cuts: a prison canine unit.
To help slash his state’s budget, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn nixed five dog-handling jobs in the department last year, according to information obtained by The Quad-City Times. And, without handlers, that meant Gov. Quinn had to lay off the dogs.
It’s not as if the search was particularly cheap. The Corrections Department says the bill already tops $100,000, and it’s likely to grow. The hunt also wasn’t even completely dog-free: The department was able to get some canine help from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
Budget issues in the Illinois prison system affect more than dogs, though. According to an American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union spokesman, “Critical security measures have been reduced due to lack of staff” at the overcrowded Robinson Correctional Center that Carter escaped from. On the day he made it out, one of the guard towers was not staffed.
And, again, the problem is broader than just this one prison, and just this one canine unit. Illinois’s prison system cost more than $1.7 billion in fiscal 2010, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. There are more than 49,000 state prison inmates in a system designed to hold about 33,000. With so much fiscal focus on just housing inmates, there’s been barely any money left in the budget for rehabilitation programs. This February, overcrowding at six state prisons forced inmates to have to sleep in gyms.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.