The state budget proposed this week by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn includes money to reopen two recently shuttered youth prisons, in Joliet and Murphysboro. Both were closed in recent years as the Department of Juvenile Justice brought its population down from 1,500 kids to about 900, and Quinn now wants to use them to establish dedicated treatment facilities for adults.
According to the governor’s budget office, the Joliet location would be turned into a prison for 484 seriously mentally ill inmates. The office says the facility could help the Department of Corrections avoid a more costly fix that could be required in an ongoing federal court case.
The other prison is in Murphysboro, in far southern Illinois. That prison would be a dedicated alcohol addiction treatment center for inmates doing time for drunk driving and could house 430 people.
Both facilities would help relieve some of the overcrowding in the state’s prison system. The governor’s budget office estimates the two prisons would create about 400 jobs. Quinn’s budget is just a proposal at this point; lawmakers would have to approve the funds.