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The Legal Side of Drunk Driving
Posted by Charles Esslinger on Apr 11th, 2014

Illinois considers using youth prisons for DUI offenders:

Even though the state juvenile prison in Murphysboro, IL has been closed for nearly two years, some lawmakers think it can still be put to good use. In Gov. Pat Quinn's new budget proposal, the facility is scheduled to be reopened and used as a statewide prison for drunk driving offenders.

According to the governor's budget officer, there are currently 2,500 inmates serving time in the state's prison system for multiple drunk driving offenses. By moving some of those inmates to the former maximum-security juvenile facility at Murphysboro, the state could help ease some of the overcrowding in its prisons. As an added benefit, the new facility would also provide specialized services to help rehabilitate those who have been convicted of DUI.

“Murphysboro could be repurposed fairly easily,” said Abdon Pallasch, assistant director of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. “This center will help us reduce recidivism and save taxpayer money over time.”

The Murphysboro facility, which was opened less than 20 years ago, was closed in July 2012 as part of Gov. Quinn's plan to close 50 state prisons. If reopened, Murphysboro would operate as a satellite prison of either Pinckneyville or Chester prison, both of which are adult facilities.

The budget for the “new” prison would include $9.5 million for the first fiscal year, beginning July 1, and would include $6.8 million for personnel costs and $2.6 million for operating expenses. However, in order for the plan to pass, the state's General Assembly has to make the governor's 67 percent income tax increase permanent.

State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who represents the Murphysboro area, thinks the reopening the prison would bring lot of jobs back to Jackson County. Still, he remains skeptical about whether the governor's budget, which has been met some disagreement, will end up passing. “It's an election year,” Luechtefeld said. “This is politics. We'll see where it goes.”


Minnesota lawmakers and DUI immunity:

Under Minnesota law, state lawmakers cannot be arrested if they're pulled over during the legislative session, even if they're drunk. Now, after years of allowing this questionable law to remain on the books, a group of Minnesota college students are trying have it removed. “It's a ridiculous law,” summed up Concordia University student Hope Baker.

For Baker and her fellow student activists, the time has come to put an end to the unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, loophole. To achieve this change, students have lobbied politicians and spread awareness throughout the community. However, fighting vested political interests, whether they be at the national or state level, is never easy. “You have to play the game to change the game, and we're going to fight and get this,” said Amal Younis, another student involved in the cause.

The statue that students have an issue with isn't just about DUI charges. As it currently stands, the law protects lawmakers from misdemeanor arrests during the legislative session. When it was written, the law was intended to protect lawmakers from being frivolously or unjustly detained by their opponents. Now, critics of the law argue that all it does is provide state lawmakers a “get-out-of-jail-free card” when it comes to drunk driving.

“We are just trying to make that illegal for everyone,” Baker explained. “That's what the public wants. It's safe; Minnesota needs it. We need safety on the roads.”


Sources:

Pantagraph - http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/quinn-budget-would-reopen-youth-prison-for-dui-offenders/article_048e24d6-8930-5ef8-9aa4-a87069deaa71.html

MyFox9.com - http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/25034200/lawmaker-immunity-students-seek-end-to-in-session-dui-exception