News Local/State

Report: Overcrowding After Dwight Prison Closing

the now-shuttered Dwight Correctional Center

The Dwight Correctional Center, which Governor Pat Quinn closed in 2013 (Jeff Bossert/WILL)

A new report from a prison watchdog group has found that moving about 1,000 female inmates from a now-closed prison in Dwight into a prison in Lincoln has exacerbated overcrowding and failed to generate meaningful cost savings.

Gov. Pat Quinn ordered the closing of the Dwight Correction Center last year as a cost-cutting move. 

But the report from the John Howard Association found nearly 2,000 inmates are now residing in the Logan Correctional Center, which was built to house about 1,100 inmates. 

The majority of Illinois' female inmates are now incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center in Central Illinois.

John Maki is director of the John Howard Association.  He said the state ought not be housing nearly two-thousand women in a prison built to hold 1,100.

“We’ve exacerbated overcrowded conditions, and damaged IDOC’s capacity to address the needs of female inmates," Maki said.  "The longer we let this fester, the longer we don’t address prison overcrowding, the stronger the invitation becomes for the federal courts to do it for us."

But state prison spokesman Tom Shaer said that metric is outdated — that it’s based on a time when each prisoner had her own cell.

“The Illinois Department of Corrections is not overcrowded," he said.  "It is crowded, but not overcrowded. And there’s a difference."   He also said in a year and a half, there’s only been one staff injury and two inmate attacks.

Both sides say the Department of Corrections would benefit from more money in its budget and fewer inmates coming in.