Illinois Creates Robust Juvenile Re-Entry Facility
In an attempt to reform Illinois’s criminal justice so that offenders can better transition out of the corrections system, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) would repurpose the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro to a life skills and re-entry facility on October 14, 2016. With the new minimum security facility, offenders would go through educational, vocational, and life skills training on site which in turn is expected to reduce the rate of recidivism, thereby helping to prevent offenders’ relapse into criminal behavior.
The repurposed facility fulfills Gov. Rauner’s goal to reduce prison population while simultaneously saving costs spent on prison facilities. Having opened in 1997, the Murphysboro center was one of the few state prison facilities that former Gov. Pat Quinn closed in July 2012. Similarly, Rauner has stated that the notorious “roundhouse,” or F House, at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet will also close. Built in 1922, the prison housing units are not only the oldest and most costly in the state, but have safety and operational hazards for staff and offenders due to its outdated layout.
During the official announcement, Rauner mentioned that IDOC Director John Baldwin, Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), and Representative Terry Bryant (R-Murphysboro) provided valuable support to push the reform plans. Amongst the supporters, Bryant explained the logical rationale for reopening the modern facility while closing antiquated facilities.
Illinois is only one of many states attempting to reform their criminal justice system. With taxpayer dollars, the government often funds systems that work at a detriment to the citizens that it should serve. While Rauner and his supporters have taken concrete actions to resolve difficult criminal justice issues, it is likely that Illinois as well as other states will enact many more policies to achieve their reform goals.