Kewanee Juvenile Jail To Reopen as Life Skills Center

Feb 7, 2017

A place where troubled teenagers used to study math will become a place where adults will study job skills. After closing last July, the former juvenile jail in Kewanee is ready to open again as Illinois' first Life Skills Re-Entry Center. Sam Dunklau has more.  


The Illinois Department of Corrections says next week, the re-entry center will start accepting male prisoners who have applied. Eventually, the state will operate three re-entry centers.

Tony Williams, Warden of the Life Skills Reentry Center in Kewanee, IL
Credit submitted / Illinois Dept. of Corrections

Kewanee Warden Tony Williams says the goal is to reduce recidivism by helping inmates learn "soft skills," such as budgeting, interviewing, and using a smart phone.

The Corrections Department reports nearly half of all inmates in Illinois return to prison within three years. The Warden, though, refuses to call the Kewanee center a prison.

He and the state have hired about 150 people, including teachers, social workers, and counselors. Next week (2/16), the center will start with a small group of prisoners, but eventually become both home and school for a few hundred.