March 27, 2012Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg
Representative Patricia Bellock
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability
703 Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Re: Written Testimony- Closure of Dwight Correctional Center
Dear Senator Schoenberg and Representative Bellock,
Please accept this communication as my submission of written testimony on the above referenced closure which will be heard by the Commission on April 4, 2012. The proposed closure of Dwight Correctional Center is of great concern to Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 2002, Illinois State Employees Association and the Union members, employees at the facility who will be laid off or transferred.
It is on behalf of all of the affected employees at Dwight Correctional Center that we urge this Commission not to support the closure of this facility. Dwight currently houses female inmates in a maximum security level facility. The inmates at Dwight are those that create a serious safety issue to the employees and inmates at the other two (2) female correctional facilities. Dwight is a place to send the most serious of female offenders. Besides that, there are only three (3) female institutions in total. According to Department of Corrections’ plan, they intend to move the female inmate population from Dwight and put them in Logan Correctional Center, currently a male institution and move the male population to Lincoln Correctional Center. However, Lincoln currently houses female inmates which would mean that the females currently at Lincoln would all have to be relocated between Logan and Decatur Correctional Center. The entire female inmate population, approximately 2700, in the State would be divided between two institutions. This is terribly problematic. Furthermore, Lincoln Correctional Center cannot house all of the inmates from Logan Correctional Center which means the overabundance would have to be distributed amongst the other already overpopulated male facilities.
In addition to the reasons stated above, staff at Logan Correctional Center, which is currently housing male inmates, would have to go through a series of training as the training for male facilities and female facilities is extensively different. There is also the additional cost to Logan which is not now equipped to house female offenders. Logan’s budget would need to increase substantially to accommodate the incoming female population.
Furthermore, Dwight Correctional Center has a large medical center, hospice and a mental health facility to service the large population of female inmates. They also have staff and training in place for those offerings. The same is not true at Logan Correctional Center. Logan does not have hospice or a mental health facility and does not have contracts in place and staff to deal with the issues of hospice and mental health.
By closing Dwight Correctional Center, the Agency will now only have two facilities between which they can transfer female inmates. Currently, when a problem arises with a female inmate they are immediately transferred to another female institution. If the female inmate is involved in a problem at that institution there is currently a third option. In addition, for all female inmates there is the threat of going to Dwight, the only maximum security facility for female inmates. Like Tamms Correctional Center, Dwight is often used as a deterrent for female inmates who would likely otherwise create safety issues but for the threat of a maximum security setting.
Dwight Correctional Center is vital to the employees across the State whose daily safety is at risk, especially with options- only two female institutions- are so limited. It is imperative that this Commission think first of the safety of the employees and the inmates across the State of Illinois. We implore you on behalf of the employees across the State not to support the closure of Dwight Correctional Center.
President, LIUNA, Local 2002, ISEA
Cc: COGFA Members and Dan Long, Executive Director, COGFA