Youth Prison in Kewanee Might Close
Two hundred jobs could soon be lost in Kewanee. Friday the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice announced the closing of the youth correctional facility by July first, saying the closing will save money, improve rehabilitation for young offenders, and improve community safety.
The youth prison opened in 2001 and several years ago, improvements were made to house maximum security offenders. Its overall capacity is 350, but last year it housed an average of 180 young people.
The department says the current count is just 95.
Kewanee houses young people at the medium and maximum security levels, plus some special populations, including juvenile sex offenders, and those with severe mental health issues and substance abuse problems.
The Juvenile Justice department says it will cost nearly 20 million dollars to operate this year, and closing it in this summer will save the state about 14 million.
Not so fast - that's the reaction of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union to Friday's closing announcement of the Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says the governor cannot just close it - proposed closings like this one must go before a bi-partisan group from the General Assembly called the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
And he promises the union will make a strong case to keep Kewanee open - not just to save jobs, but because of the "unique and special programs" it offers.
Kewanee City Manager, Gary Bradley, says officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice are recommending it be turned into a regular prison for adults.