Friday, April 06, 2012
On April 4, members of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) held public hearings in Joliet and Dwight on the proposed closures of the Illinois Youth Center (IYC) at Joliet and Dwight Correctional Center. A similar meeting took place in southern Illinois on April 2, with regard to Tamms Correctional Center, which is also slated for closure.
The hearings were well-attended by local leaders, union representatives, former inmates, prison administrators and employees, and the general public. The Governor’s Office has advanced prison closures and consolidations as a way to reduce state financial obligations in the face of Illinois’ massive budget deficit. However, many local representatives said that closing the facilities will devastate the regional economies, which rely heavily on the jobs and revenues associated with the correctional centers.
Safety concerns were also raised, particularly with respect to inmates from Tamms and IYC in Joliet. The facilities house some of the state’s most violent and dangerous adult and juvenile inmates. Tamms is the state’s lone super-max facility, and Joliet IYC is the only maximum-security facility for juvenile offenders in the system. Some members of COGFA joined prison officials and employees in questioning the wisdom of transitioning these inmates into a less aggressive prison population, particularly when Illinois’ correctional system already exceeds capacity.
Members of COGFA have until early May to issue their non-binding recommendations on the Governor’s proposed facility closures. The facilities are scheduled for closure by July 31.