Reporting from WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer.
Last week, the Illinois Department of Corrections broke a rather unenviable record. On Tuesday, the department housed 49,172 inmates. The previous record was sent in Oct. 2011 when the population hit 49,135.
The population has been steadily rising since Ill. Gov. Pat Quin suspended an early release program in the middle of a heated primary election against Dan Hynes two years ago. Quinn recently signed into law a new early release program that should help bring down the number but it hasn't yet been implemented.
Despite, the bulging population, Quinn is seeking to close several prisons to save money. The closures are opposed by the union representing prison workers who say overcrowding is already causing safety concerns.