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In change of position, Quinn to allow prison tours

Associated Press Modified: October 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm •  Published: October 26, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday appeared to be backing away from his position that visits by reporters to Illinois prisons constitute a security risk.

Illinois' Department of Corrections released a statement saying officials are working to schedule media tours of prisons.

"Safety and security continues to be the department's top priority," department spokeswoman Stacey Solano said. "There has been increased interest in some Illinois prisons, and the department will manage guided tours to media representatives while taking into consideration the safety and security of our staff, inmates and visitors, as well as available resources and associated costs."

The Associated Press and other news media outlets have been denied tour requests as Quinn tries to close two prisons to save money despite historic overcrowding of the state's prisons. According to an AP analysis of state data, there are now more than 49,300 inmates held in prisons designed to hold 33,700.

Despite making assertions about security, the department allowed a group of 25 criminal justice students from Heartland Community College in Normal to tour the prison in Pontiac last week.

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