SPRINGFIELD — The Chicago-based John Howard Association says in a 40-page report Governor Pat Quinn's 2013 closure of Dwight Correctional Center did not improve conditions for the state's female prisoners.
The watchdog group said moving more than 1,000 female inmates into a former all-male facility in Lincoln hasn't lived up to assurances Quinn and his staff offered when the cost-cutting plan was revealed in 2012.
The prison watchdog group based its findings on three visits to Logan Correctional Center, which replaced Dwight as the state's main facility for medium- and maximum-security female inmates.
Quinn announced the closure of Dwight as part of a statewide money-saving plan. He said it would cost too much to upgrade the aging facility and that its closure would save $31.3 million.
But the Chicago-based organization found there are 1,985 inmates residing in a facility built to house 1,106.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said the report validates concerns raised by opponents of the closure.
"It is obvious the Department of Corrections lacks a long-term plan for facilities. I believe the closure of Dwight was a political decision," said Barickman, whose 53rd District includes Dwight. "It's frustrating to see."
The association suggests the General Assembly and governor provide IDOC with the money needed to repair and upgrade the facility and to hire adequate numbers of employees.