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Plans to raze and replace Stateville prison get public hearing

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(The Center Square) – The state is moving ahead with plans to tear down and reconstruct Stateville Correctional Center in Will County.

The facility was built in 1925, but conditions were described as “decrepit, unsafe and inhumane” by the prison watchdog group John Howard Association.

During a Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability meeting Tuesday night in Joliet, Department of Corrections Acting Director Latoya Hughes said Stateville is too far gone to be repaired.

“The current living conditions at Stateville are not conducive to rehabilitation,” said Hughes. “The infrastructure is antiquated and inefficient, and delaying action only increases risks to all involved.”

Hughes said current Stateville employees can work elsewhere after the prison closes.

“Should staffing patterns hold, the department estimates that approximately 1,000 Illinois Department of Corrections positions are available within a 65-mile radius,” said Hughes.

State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, received an ovation from the Stateville workers in the audience when he wondered if Pritzker could change his mind and not build a new prison at Stateville.

“What assurance can you give the legislature that there is even an intention to rebuild Stateville,” said DeWitte. “I’m only asking the question because the general population in all of the DOC facilities is down.”

The plan also calls for the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln to be closed and rebuilt. The total cost of both projects is about $900 million.

A Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability meeting regarding the plans at Logan will be held Thursday. A final recommendation from the commission could come by the end of the week.

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