Illinois Department of Corrections

Iowa Department of Corrections

It was mid-Tuesday morning and Warden Nick Ludwick was still singing the praises of everyone involved in Saturday's transfer of 507 maximum security prisoners from the old Iowa State Penitentiary in downtown Fort Madison to the new facility two miles away.  He said he's been involved in large-scale inmate transfers in the past and this was possibly the best he has seen.

A federal lawsuit alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections use of solitary confinement is “cruel, inhumane and offensive to basic human decency.”

The complaint says about 23 hundred people in Illinois prisons are in solitary on any given day -- and that many of those people are there for very minor infractions.

Brian Nelson spent 23 years in solitary.

“I paced 18 hours every day, and they had to cut blood blisters off my feet,” Nelson said. “Consider an animal in the zoo-- we don’t put them in an environment like that.”

Not long ago, it seemed every time a different type of crime started making the news, members of the Illinois General Assembly would rush to increase the penalty for that offense. But today — with prisons stuffed beyond capacity and state finances ailing — lawmakers have begun taking a more deliberate approach. Brian Mackey reports on a criminal sentencing culture change in the Illinois General Assembly.

Rich Egger

Illinois' auditor has found that the state's prison systems have lost 240 computers.