The consequences of drug, sentencing and public health policies are now coming home to roost in the state’s corrections system, their impacts magnified by Illinois’ dismal fiscal situation. They include continued high financial and social costs, Constitutional questions and even potential threats to the public health.

Fortunately, for better understanding of the current situation in our prisons we can look to the John Howard Association, a nonpartisan watchdog of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and its facilities that runs on a lot of volunteer power.

JHA has just released a report called “Unasked Questions, Unintended Consquences.” The report analyzes 15 findings and recommendations ranging from the lack of accountability for a $1.4 billion IDOC contract for health care, to the developing problems of housing a booming population of elderly prisoners.

Rob Wildeboer at WBEZ looks at some of the back stories of the investigations behind the JHA analysis and report. Wildeboer’s been doing yeoman’s work in this area; just place “IDOC” in the search box at the WBEZ site.

While I’m at it I’d also like to share with you a couple of related online locations: a blog written by a prisoner at Stateville, and a Facebook page where JHA staff and volunteers exchange information with prisoners’ families and other interested citizens.