News Local/State

County Board Chair: Dwight Prison Reuse Will Cost $3 Million


The head of the Livingston County Board says it will be at least September before officials there can sign off on a plan to re-use part of the closed Dwight prison.

Board chair Marty Fannin said he first had to determine that the county would make a profit from the housing of about 300 inmates from neighboring counties, as well as federal prisoners. He noted that it will cost about $3 million to prep the shuttered correctional center's X House, which was used for prisoner intake.

That includes cleanup, installation of video equipment for prisoner visitation, and the hiring of about 50 guards and other employees. 

Fannin said next steps include negotiating a contract with state Central Management Services, which now oversees the shuttered facility.

“The second part of that is we really need to have some sort of commitment from Cook County to ensure that if we do this, re-open this prison, or at least the part of this, is that we actually get a cash flow off of this," he said.

Fannin, who used to operate food service at the prison, said he found no real surprises in terms of needed repairs.

He and Livingston County Sheriff Marty Meredith have been in talks for weeks to find ways to recoup some revenues after Gov. Pat Quinn closed the women’s prison in March.

Fannin said it would take about three months after county board's approval to begin using the prison again.