Davidsmeyer Weighs In on Pritzker Admin’s Prison Plans

By Benjamin Cox on May 13, 2024 at 7:26am

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability met in Springfield Friday morning to hear from state officials on Governor J.B. Pritzker’s plan in dealing with 2 dilapidated state prison facilities.

Earlier this spring, the governor announced his proposal of spending $900 million over the next five years to knock down Statesville Correctional Center, a maximum-security men’s facility just outside of Joliet, and the women’s Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.

The Illinois Department of Corrections plan is to temporarily close Statesville as a new prison is rebuilt on the grounds, transferring inmates to other facilities. However, the plans for Logan are less firm. At present the plan is to keep Logan open while the new facility is being built near the new Statesville facility.

Both facilities were identified last year in an independent report by a justice facility planning firm as being outdated and in need of costly repairs – and in some cases recommended condemning them.

At Friday’s hearing, State Representative CD Davidsmeyer, who sits on the commission, says that the timeline for the projects puts the commission in a time crunch: “With Statesville, it sounds like you are talking about transferring people to other facilities, closing it in September. I’ll have a follow-up on that timeline. For Logan, it sounds like you are going to try and maintain that facility until something new is built. So, we’re announcing closure. I will also preface that by saying that the timeline we are required to follow in COGFA, that puts us into the last week of May, which is traditionally the busiest week in Springfield. You put COGFA and the members of COGFA in a situation where we almost have to choose whether we allow communities to be heard in a way that they need to be heard or whether we come here and do our job and pass a budget.”

As of Friday, there has been no bill passed offering the Pritzker Administration’s budget proposals.

Davidsmeyer also found the timeline to build the new facilities as outlined in the governor’s proposal to be a bit ambitious: “I represent the Illinois-Missouri border along the Mississippi River. I’ve seen the timeline for Missouri to build a bridge is about 3 years. The timeline for the State of Illinois to build a bridge is about 7 years. It’s very hard for me…and I don’t want to harp continuously on this, I just want to make sure we are being realistic on this. It’s very hard for me to believe that we are going to build a facility…a secure facility any quicker than we can build a bridge.”

The bipartisan commission’s leadership is placing a request for more time to look at the proposals, looking for an extension to June 15th.