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Reporters get look inside Vienna prison

(AP file photo)
Gov. Pat Quinn's administration is offering journalists a tour of the state prison, seen here, Friday after backing off a new policy that banned such tours because reporters were deemed security risks. However, officials still are saying no photographers are allowed and are not letting reporters bring in their own pens. A watchdog group recently filed a scathing report about conditions in Vienna.

VIENNA – Journalists got a long-awaited look inside a southern Illinois prison that had been questioned over its conditions after Gov. Pat Quinn abandoned efforts to block media access.

Friday's two-hour tour of the minimum-security Vienna Correctional Center was tightly controlled, with officials barring cameras of any kind.

Areas of the prison seen by reporters Friday appeared in good condition. But the warden said the prison has 1,670 inmates, about 700 more than it's designed to handle.

A watchdog group last year complained about that crowding and what it called the site's squalid conditions. But the warden says most of those issues have been remedied.

Quinn had argued in August that prisons "aren't country clubs," and that letting news reporters inside was a security risk. He later relented.


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