Report: Illinois Prisons in “Deplorable” Conditions

By Benjamin Cox on July 27, 2023 at 8:36am

A consulting company hired by the State of Illinois to assess the conditions of prisons says that things are in deplorable shape.

WBEZ reports that the consultants found three of the department’s 27 facilities as approaching “inoperable” and estimated the prison system has at least $2.5 billion of “deferred maintenance,” the highest of any state agency. That number is expected to double in five years if unaddressed. WBEZ obtained a full copy of the report. You may view it here.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has refused to comment on the report directly but says internal discussions on the next steps forward to meet operations requirements are currently under way.

The report also is recommending the state to close the Dixon Secure Psychiatric Unit and move the prisoners to a nearby facility better suited for the mission of psychiatric treatment, create a geriatric-centered facility for aging prisoners, close the Logan’s women’s prison due to its poor conditions, and further reduce capacity at Pontiac Prison.

According to the report, Jacksonville Correctional Facility currently partially meets operations ratings and has deferred maintenance needs totaling over $22 million. Western Illinois Correctional Facility in Mt. Sterling is also in a similar condition, partially meeting operations ratings but having more than $77 million in deferred maintenance projects.

There are currently 15 active lawsuits in the Central District Court for Illinois against the Jacksonville prison brought by inmates over the prison’s upkeep and ventilation, as well as the handling of Covid-19 protocols.

The report also highlighted staffing shortages across IDOC, showing that prison staff vacancies are currently sitting on an average of 28%.