Youth center to reopen as life skills, re-entry facility for offenders
The Illinois Department of Corrections, IDOC, has been instructed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to repurpose the Illinois Youth Center Murphysboro into a life skills and re-entry facility.
The plans, which were announced Oct. 14, also include closing of the F House at Stateville Correctional Center.
The focus of the new minimum security facility will be on preparing offenders for a successful transition out of the corrections system through educational, vocational and life skills training, state officials said.
“The people of Illinois believe in redemption. We believe in second chances. All of us at one time or another have needed the opportunity to turn a wrong into a right,” Rauner said in a news release.
Rauner said the program “will help offenders gain valuable skills that will enable them to re-enter society as productive citizens. Our hope is that the new life skills and re-entry facility at Murphysboro will help put an end to the cycle of recidivism that plagues our criminal justice system and give offenders a real shot at a second chance.”
The governor was joined at the Murphysboro announcement by IDOC director John Baldwin, State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, and State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro. The governor said that all three were crucial “in making progress on this commonsense reform to Illinois’ criminal justice system.”
“Reopening Murphysboro as a life skills re-entry facility just makes sense,” John Baldwin said.
“People who complete their sentences pay their debt to society and deserve a second chance to rebuild their lives and rebuild their families. That’s why we are equipping them with evidence based job skills, communication skills, and other life skills that will give them a hand up when they are released from custody.”
“The reopening of the Murphysboro IYC is welcomed news for our area. Obviously, it means jobs, but it’s also a key piece of the puzzle of criminal justice reform being sought by the Governor,” Luechtefeld said.
“The facility will be low-risk to Murphysboro and the surrounding area. The inmates to be housed there will be nearing release and ready to head home. They will receive important life skills education that will give them hope and an opportunity to get their lives back on track,” Luechtefeld said.
“The best way to reduce recidivism is to provide inmates with the skills they need to re-enter society as full participants.”
“Reopening Murphysboro is a step in the right direction on many levels,” Bryant said.
“The fact is this modern facility should have never closed; and now Governor Rauner is taking a careful, thoughtful approach towards its long-term functionality.
“We can now take that facility down a new path to help improve Illinois’ awful recidivism rates, creating not only correctional positions, but also positions that assist with rehabilitation, re-entry and education. In short, this is a tremendous opportunity.”
In addition to the announcement of the Murphysboro facility’s repurposing, the governor also announced that F House at Stateville Correctional Center will be closed.
F House is one of the state’s oldest and most costly prison housing units.
Built in 1922, F House is the only remaining “roundhouse” in use in the United States.
Its layout is seen as antiquated and creates safety and operational hazards for both staff and offenders.
Offenders will be moved to available vacant assignments appropriate for their designated level of supervision.
Employees who currently work in F House will be reassigned to existing, vacant posts throughout the Stateville Correctional Center.