Worried that Dwight Correctional Center may
close but determined to prevent it, about 200 people turned out to picket. They
lined Illinois 17 in front of the prison just west of town, waving signs
matching their T-shirts and chanting as passing drivers honked in support.
22, 2012 Gov. Pat Quinn proposed to close the maximum security women’s prison
in my hometown Dwight, IL by August 31, 2012 due to budget cuts. Dwight prison
houses approx 1,000 maximum security women inmates. IDOC employs approx 350
workers total. According to the Dwight newspaper, 142 live in Livingston County, 76 live in Kankakee County, 60
live in LaSalle County, 21 live in Grundy County, and 59 live in Dwight. Quinn
has estimated that closing the prison would save approx. $37.3 million a year.
The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council estimates, however,
it would cost the region more than 700 jobs and about $45 million annually in
economic activity. Each of the 1,000 inmates would be transferred downstate to
Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, IL. If these closures happen without alternative
facilities coming on line, female correctional facilities will be operating at
183% over their design capacity. Moreover, the conversion of Logan to a woman’s
facility would simply worsen overcrowding in male facilities around the state.
Dwight was built as a female facility, with
specialized units to address its diverse population. Closing Dwight means
closing the only female facility in the state with the capacity to house
maximum security inmates, and the only Reception and Classification Center for
female inmates. Dwight prison has a lot of different great programs to help
educate and rehabilitate the offenders. However, by closing the prison the
inmates will no longer have the great opportunity of taking advantage of these
wonderful programs. Dwight run’s a unique inmate training program called
Helping Paws. This program first began at Dwight Correctional Center in 2000; it
is a service dog training program in partnership with MidAmerican Service Dogs'
Foundation. The program teaches life and job skills to the offenders as they
live and work with the dogs 24 hours a day. The program also runs a grooming
program that services both staff and community dogs.
If Dwight is closed, these local connections
that make these programs possible will be disrupted. Dwight also offers
academic and behavioral programs, including adult basic education, pre-GED and
GED classes, religious observances, substance abuse treatment, parenting
classes, mental health treatment groups, and treatment for sexual abuse. DOC tries to maintain and strengthen family
ties by allowing as frequent and barrier free visiting. Facilitating these
relationships is the key factor for both the children and their mothers. If the
inmates have to move further away from the facility they may not have the
opportunity to see their families anymore.
As a result, please take the time to sign a petition
to save the Dwight prison. If the Dwight prison closes, my home town will soon
become a ghost town due to how small it is. The prison is one of the main
reasons Dwight is still operating today.