Dwight Hopes for Large Crowd for COGFA Prison Hearing

Today’s the day opponents of the proposed closing of the Dwight Women’s Correctional Center get a chance to voice their say to state officials.

And Dwight Mayor Bill Wilkey and others hope that crowd is a big one. Some project 1,000 people may attend today’s public hearing where opponents of the proposed Dwight Correctional Center closing will testify on its financial impact.

The hearing, before the Commission of Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), is set for 4 pm at the Dwight Township High School.

In an attempt to save Dwight's second largest employer, state lawmakers, Dwight village officials and community members, along with the union that represents prison employees, are expected to attend the hearing.

The COGFA commission is a group of 12 Illinois lawmakers that monitor the state's debt.

It will hear official testimony on how the closure would impact businesses, health care services and the housing market in central Illinois. The commission then will prepare a report on how the closure would impact the local economy and send its recommendation to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Mayor Wilkey has said the impact is obvious.  He told WGFA News closing the prison “ would devastate the village of Dwight and many of the communities around us, including Streator, Pontiac and Kankakee, where employees reside." Wilkey said Dwight’s loss would affect several counties, including Iroquois, Ford, LaSalle and Will.

Quinn has proposed the closure by August to trim an estimated $48 million from the state's budget. That savings would come at the cost of 460 jobs, according to the release, though other figures have pointed to 359 jobs. Dwight is Illinois' only maximum security women's prison.

Area lawmakers, Senator Shane Cultra and Rep. Jason Barickman, have vowed to stay involved as long as the fight continues.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson and Rep Lisa Dugan have also heard from citizens about the concerns of losing the economic benefits the prison provides.

94.1 FM, WGFA