The Rauner administration is trying to privatize nursing in Illinois’ prison system, Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said Wednesday.

Biss’ comments were prompted by word that the Rauner administration is outsourcing the jobs of 124 prison nurses employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections to a private company. The unionized nurses are represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, and their layoffs are effective June 15, according to a March 18 letter from the administration to the association announcing the changes.

“This appears to be nothing more than a back-door attempt to get around Illinois’ ban on privatizing prisons,” Biss said. “Gov. Rauner is offering up another failed policy that looks like it came straight out of the Trump White House.”

Illinois banned private prisons in 1990. The General Assembly declared that “the management and operation of a correctional facility or institution involves functions that are inherently governmental.” However, the privatization ban does not apply to ancillary services, such as medical care.

“Just last week, Gov. Rauner tried to insist he had the best interests of state workers at heart. This week he’s laying off 124 nurses employed by the state,” Biss said. “The only interests I think Gov. Rauner has at heart are those of his business friends who can make money off state government.”

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