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Prison closures to impact about 500 Central Illinois jobs

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(The Center Square) – With a plan to demolish the Logan County Correctional Center and the Stateville prison, a lawmaker is raising concerns about the economic losses multiple Illinois counties will see.

State Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, said the conversations with Illinois Department of Corrections and the governor’s office have all indicated the Logan County Correctional Center in Lincoln will be rebuilt on the campus of Stateville, which is in Joliet.

“We are trying to convey to the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Corrections how important it is that we retain Logan Correctional Center in Logan county,” said Hauter.

Hauter said counties like Logan, Macon, Sangamon, Dewitt and Tazwell are looking at over $600 million of economic impact and probably around 500 jobs leaving central Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the prison renovations have to be made.

“Changes have to take place because these prisons have not been upgraded or renovated in many, many years. Many of them are very old, particularly Logan and Stateville,” said Pritzker. “We have to be careful about it because we want to protect not only the correctional officers but the people who reside in [these prisons] who are serving out their sentences. Unfortunately, the state has neglected to do anything about the conditions in these prisons.”

Pritzker’s office announced a $930 million plan to demolish and replace the two prisons.

Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln is about 20 miles north of Springfield and was built in 1978. Operational capacity is around 1,400. IDOC reports a total population of 1,070 with an average taxpayer cost of nearly $70,000 per individual. Stateville Correctional Center, which opened in 1925, is in Joliet. Total capacity is over 3,000. Total population, according to IDOC, is over 1,900. Total taxpayer cost per individual at Stateville is $61,304.

Hauter said he thinks the reason why there’s a push to move the center out of Logan county is because there’s a prison in Decatur and those who are for the move say that that prison will suffice Central Illinois’ need for a prison.

Decatur Correctional Center was built in 2000 and is about three hours southwest of Chicago. Decatur is the minimum-security female facility with an operational capacity of 707. Total population is 327 with a total taxpayer cost per individual of $72,581.

“We have shown them evidence and the impact and even what’s available in Logan county and why it should stay there. They [IDOC and the governor’s office] told us they have not made a final decision,” said Hauter.

Hauter said he doesn’t know if the IDOC and the governor can legally disclose whether the plan is to move the center to the Statesville campus, but said it’s clear that the momentum is headed in that direction.

“We can clearly see where this is heading. I don’t know if it’s because they can’t legally before a process is out there, including informing the public, doing the reports and investigations and talking with the unions … it is very clear that we have to do everything we can, and very quickly, to stop this momentum,” said Hauter.

Hauter’s state House district includes the Logan County Correctional Center.