February 14, 2013

Rushville facility for dangerous sex offenders to expand

2-14-2013 Illinois:

SPRINGFIELD — At the same time Gov. Pat Quinn is closing prisons and other large state facilities, his administration is expanding a specialized state lockup for dangerous sex offenders.

Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Human Services said the detention facility for sexually violent persons in Rushville will get a $13 million makeover that will add space for an additional 96 residents.

The facility, originally built as a juvenile prison, was designed to house 482 people, but, like the state’s overcrowded prison system, is now housing more than 500.

A second expansion of the Schuyler County facility would add space for another 192 detainees at a cost of another $19 million. Work is tentatively scheduled to get under way on phase two in 2015.

The overall $32 million construction cost doesn’t count daily operational costs, which were not available Wednesday.

The planned expansion comes just two months after Quinn closed a prison in Tamms and a juvenile prison in Murphysboro, as well as a number of other large state facilities as part of a budget-cutting move. The governor also is on track to close the all-female Dwight Correctional Center.

Plans for Rushville’s expansion drew catcalls from lawmakers who fought Quinn to keep facilities open in their districts.

“I’m sure in their minds they think this is the right thing to do,” said state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, an Okawville Republican whose district includes Murphysboro. “It certainly doesn’t look good to be closing facilities and then adding on to others.”

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, whose district includes the Dwight prison, said the administration doesn’t appear to have a strategy for dealing with overcrowding in state facilities.

“It makes me wonder if there is any long-term planning as we have previously suggested there should be,” Barickman said.

The administration said human services officials determined that expanding the $48 million Rushville facility was more cost efficient than moving residents into the now-empty facilities.

“The Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility serves a very specialized population,” human services spokeswoman Januari Smith said. “Expansion at Rushville allows for the continued use of the existing services that are already provided to the current population, including treatment, health care and food service.”

The Rushville facility was originally built as a youth prison during former Gov. George Ryan’s administration.

It was turned over to the Department of Human Services in 2006 to house people who have been convicted of a sex related crime and have served their sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Residents are sent to Rushville if prison officials decide they are a danger to the community. ..Source.. by Kurt Erickson

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