• AP Photo/The Southern/Paul Newton
  • The Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester. The path between poor, black neighborhoods and prison is well worn.

I wrote yesterday about questions WBEZ reporter Rob Wildeboer has been trying to ask Governor Quinn about prisons—questions about crowding, health care, and the lack of rehabilitative programs.

As Wildeboer noted in one of his stories this week, 33,000 prisoners are released from Illinois’s penitentiaries every year. (The prison population, now 49,000, is constantly replenished.) Each newly-minted ex-offender gets $10, and, if no relative or friend is willing to pick him up, a bus or train ticket home.

Home is often the poor, black neighborhoods the ex-offender left. A disproportionate number come from, and return to, Englewood and West Englewood, Greater Grand Boulevard, Woodlawn, Roseland, West and East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, and Austin.

This concentration of ex-offenders is hard for the ex-offenders, and hard for their neighborhoods.