Illinois Youth Center to Reopen as Re-entry Facility

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced in October that he plans to reopen and repurpose the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro as a minimum-security transition facility.

The center was built in 1997 and later closed in 2012 by then Governor Pat Quinn who tried to reopen it again in 2014, but failed. Now, Gov. Rauner hopes to open the facility as part of a broader plan to improve the Illinois prison system. In 2015, he created a commission on criminal justice and sentencing reform with goal of reducing the prison population by 25 percent by 2025, according to the Associated Press.

At a press conference about the transition of the Illinois Youth Center, Gov. Rauner added that the state has a 47.1 percent rate of recidivism, reported The Southern Illinoisan, a local news outlet. In an effort to improve the recidivism rates, the new center will be used as a re-entry facility to help offenders prepare for a successful transition into society through educational, vocational and life-skills training. The current facility already features a kitchen area, gym, classrooms, meeting rooms, workshop and even a greenhouse area.

Expected to open this spring, the facility will house about 300 inmates and employ about 120 people. It will be managed as part of the Pinckneyville facility, which is currently managed by Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook.

Gov. Rauner said that this site was chosen over the Hardin County Work Camp, which other government officials had suggested opening, because it was better maintained and cost less money to repurpose. Rauner’s press secretary told The Southern Illinoisan that it will cost about $800,000 to reopen and repurpose the facility.

At the same press conference, Gov. Rauner said he plans to close Stateville Correctional Center’s F House, which is one of the state’s oldest and most costly prison housing units, according to The Southern Illinoisan. Built in 1922, its structure is outdated and creates safety and operational hazards for both staff and offenders.