Illinois Commission Fails To Approve Closure Of Juvenile Detention Center

May 3, 2016

A group of Illinois legislators failed to endorse Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to close the youth prison in Kewanee. But Tuesday's vote will not necessarily keep the facility open.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

  The juvenile detention center in Kewanee is 150 miles southwest of Cook County, which is where about half of the inmates are from. Candice Jones, director of the Department of Juvenile Justice said that's too far from family support, job training and mental health services. She said other sites have better rehabilitation opportunities, and that should be the priority.

"We run a very good facility at Pere Marquette or at Harrisburg," she said. "Strong schools, better invention. Those youths should benefit from our strongest programming first."

But Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, said the center should stay open or be converted into a geriatric prison to house elderly inmates. He said it's newer and less costly to operate than other state detention centers.

"It makes no sense whatsoever, despite how you look at this, to simply to close it down," he said.

  Legislators were closely divided, with five in favor of closure and six against. Gov. Bruce Rauner can proceed despite the lack of support.