He said Friday reporters are too much of a safety risk and prisons shouldn't be treated like country clubs.
Instead, Quinn said Illinois residents and reporters should trust the decisions his administration is making.
Reaction to the new policy poured in Monday from journalists and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac).
"By not allowing the media access for tours begs itself, is there something out there that might be of concern," Rutherford said.
As a member of the state legislature, Rutherford took media members inside Dwight and Pontiac Correctional Centers annually.
He said those tours led to significant safety changes and eyeopening experiences that led to new policies in the corrections department.
"The inmates were allowed to hang their blankets as curtains. So guards that went down the walkway couldn't see what was going on in there. Until the public sees that, you don't understand. Until you have a picture of it, a reporter with it or a policy maker, you don't really appreciate what it is when you talk about the cost of public safety," Rutherford said.
He said that cost is estimated right now at more than $1 billion.
With no access to see how that money is being spent, Illinois journalists are blasting Quinn's new policy as well.
Illinois News Broadcasters Association President Jennifer Fuller said, "When we're not allowed inside, we don't know what's going on. If we don't know what's going on, how do people know what's going on."
WMBD 31 News spoke with Fuller via FaceTime.
She said the governor is taking a step backwards and worries it's taxpayers who will ultimately be left in the dark.
"Given the history of corruption in this state, it's really important we have the information we can give to people so they can be more secure in what's happening with their tax dollars and with their elected officials," Fuller said.
The media policy comes during a tricky time for corrections.
Two prison closures are tied up in a legal battle. Others are operating at more than 100% capacity, according to Rutherford.
Employees recently went public with what they call unsafe working conditions.
And watchdog groups claim inmates are living in deplorable conditions in at least two prisons, Vienna and Vandalia.